Paul Oloko: Camera As Institution

By Armsfree Ajanaku

Paul Oloko

Paul Oloko

AS journalists constantly in hunt for the news, there are many important moments that the limitations of time and space do not allow us to capture. Invariably, those moments fizzle into oblivion, where memory may attempt some indifferent sketch. Some of those are the moments of our own personal stories and experiences as they relate to the exact nature and dimension of what we do.

Being in the vortex of a daily attempt to capture the complexities of human engagements within the constraints of time and space tends to blunt the tapestries of our own involvement. This is accentuated by the fact that the objectivity required by our calling compels us to maintain some distance from the fray.

So the reality is that the journalist cannot objectively provide accurate and compelling accounts about the cauldron that is society, if he is right inside it. What tends to get lost as a result of this supposition, are the nuggets of our personal experiences, especially as peripatetic professionals helping society to catch a quick glimpse of its reality.

As such, because the reporter is supposed to maintain some objective distance and not become an intruder in the flow process of information, our personal stories on the beat, including the heroics, the struggles and the triumphs tend not to make the pages.

Albeit unaccounted for, some of these stories are about daring, almost foolhardy acts in our quest to ensure real facts are laid before our audience. Fact, which would invariable lead to the establishment of the truth within a universal context, is the province of the journalist. In pursuit of these building blocks of truth, the journalist must at certain points assume that his very existence is less important than his pursuits.

It is so because the journalist knows that any society devoid of these building blocks of truth exists in a very dark realm, and would as a consequence become a place of constant turmoil.

One professional who has amply demonstrated this unshakable quest for presenting those crucial building blocks of truth is the late Paul Oloko; ace photographer of The Guardian who recently passed on. Oloko was one professional whose lenses produced images that haunted and healed. In the context of Nigerian photojournalism, his camera was an institution, which constantly provided narratives of the existential drudgery of the Nigerian condition. Oloko’s camera was pro-people. It travelled to meet and document the realities of those on the margins of society.

The Guardian late photojournalist, Paul Oloko

The Guardian late photojournalist, Paul Oloko

He never shied away from engaging with the disadvantaged, and he told their stories with the instincts of an ally. Oloko did not shy away from capturing faces that carried the pains and burdens of being Nigerian. The unseen tears of Oloko’s subjects eloquently narrated the stories of the crushing injustices of Nigeria’s indifferent system.

In his relentless photographic documentation, we do not merely see the pains and miseries. We also see Oloko’s subjects through the fine prints of The Guardian in action in the battlefields of the people. His lenses captured the gestures of a people in the fight, however feeble, for survival. He loved to document the engagements of students, market women and the coalition of forces that demand an end to the status quo.

As a corollary, in Oloko’s over two decades of photography, we get acquainted with his quiet, but irreverent offensive against bad governance in all forms. He had an uncommon knack for capturing those monuments of decay, manifesting in heaps of refuse that once threatened our sanity, just as he also put his lens in service of the public by chronicling the unacceptably horrible dilapidation of many of our roads.

Reporting for the flagship, several special assignments brought us together. I was always struck by the depth of his commitment and his fearlessness. I can recall his trim and Spartan appearance, as he would close an eye to take his shots. Nothing thrilled him more than getting a front page picture. On one occasion, we had gone to report one of the many unending pipeline fires in Ijegun, a suburb on the outskirts of Lagos. I still remember this scene vividly. It was one of those bedlam in which everyone had commenced a rapid dialogue with their feet. The fire was advancing rapidly, threatening the entire community. As we had seen many times, a classic case of Nigerian dysfunction was playing out; men of the fire service who managed to arrive the scene after the fire had done substantial damage did not have hoses that could reach a point to put out the fire. So as the fire advanced, gutting a crucial oil infrastructure, the firemen were beating a tactical retreat.

In the midst of it all, I could catch a glimpse of Paul Oloko; he was surprisingly heading in the opposite direction, searching for a vantage position to take a shot. I voiced my worry about his safety, pointing out that even the fire fighters were taking to their heels. His reply had a tone of finality: “this is the picture for tomorrow’s front page.”

There is no doubt that his ability to defy the odds was one quality that made him tick. He was a man who dedicated himself to using photojournalism as a veritable instrument for representing the voiceless, all limitations notwithstanding. Adieu Oloko, rest blissfully in the bosom of the Lord.

Ajanaku, a former associate of The Guardian lives in Abuja.

Maximizing benefits of tourism sector in Nigeria


Protea Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos

Protea Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos

WITH the opening of at least one hotel every other month, influx of international hotel brands, and high employment capacity, the hospitality sector seems to be the only thriving sub-sector in the travel and tourism industry in Nigeria and clearly depicts the obvious – that Nigeria tourism is globally competitive.

In July this year, Nigeria’s first six-star hotel began operation in Abuja with the take-off of AES Luxury Apartments. The Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, who declared the facility open, commended the owners and managers of the hospitality outfit for its high standard. Duke said the emergence of AES was particularly timely as patrons seek secure, yet opulent, alternatives to the few and often overcrowded five-star hotels in the city.

Underscoring the fact that the country’s tourism sector is globally competitive, President Goodluck Jonathan, last month unveiled a new “tourism identity” as part of efforts to develop the tourism sector and diversify the nation’s revenue sources. The new identity, Fascinating Nigeria, was launched at a dinner held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, to showcase the country’s rich tourism and cultural potentials.

The president, who was represented by the Vice President, Namadi Sambo, said the tourism sector, if properly harnessed, could generate income and attract investment to drive the country’s economy. He revealed that the Federal Government has placed greater emphasis on creating an enabling environment for harnessing the country’s vast tourism potentials and resources and subsequently increase the budget of the Ministry of Tourism.
“This is because tourism, another huge revenue source, is a means by which potentialities shall create employment and wealth for our teeming Nigerian youths. The cultural diversity, historic sites and slave routes together with the large Diaspora population provide an opportunity for success, when packaged with festivals and events for presentation to the international and regional tour operators,” he added.

According to the president, Nigeria has a lot to showcase to the world. “Our movie industry is second in the world only after Hollywood, our football team is the reigning African Champions, our festivals are unrivaled on the African continent and our music is reigning supreme globally. We are ranked as one of the best places to do business and we are one of the fastest growing economies and an investment destination,” he said.

Tourism Minister, Edem Duke, said tourism sector in 2012 contributed three per cent to the Nigerian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 2.6 per cent of total employment, making the sector second to oil and gas.

In the bid to add bite to the Fascinating Nigeria initiative, president of the Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN), Mr. Tomi Akingbogun, during the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the association, said his federation was working to ensure a reduction in operating tourism businesses in the country.

“FTAN is set to partner the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on private-public investments by broadening inter-regional tourism trade and investments, but the government has to be sincere about developing this sector, first by reducing multiple taxation and other business unfriendly policies.”

While there is a remarkable growth in the sector, all is not well, as challenges, especially in electricity power supply, importation of majority of the products and furniture, and dearth of skilled personnel, and recently, security still, pose serious problems. Despite the harsh business climate, the likes of Protea, Golden Tulip, Best Western, among others, added a number to their repertoire in their preparation to take on the big players and multinational brands such as Sheraton, Le Meridian and Hilton.

Edem Duke, Nigeria's Culture Minister

Edem Duke, Nigeria’s Culture Minister

So many two-star and three-star hotels opened all over the country with established hotels adding more rooms and expanding facilities. According to a report, Calabar and Enugu saw increased hotel development surpassed only by Abuja, followed closely by Lagos. With this development, hotel room rates are falling because of the shrinking economic activities and availability of more rooms.

The influx of these international brands, according to George Lucky Esiekpe, public relations consultant to African Sun, and CEO,, is a testimony that the sector is growing. “But, it is also sad that the indigenous hotels are yet to wake up to the competition by foreign brands.”

A thriving hospitality industry provides thousands of skilled and unskilled jobs, both of which are particularly critical in Nigeria, where unemployment levels have continued to grow geometrically.

As international hotel groups start moving into the continent they view as “the final frontier of hospitality”, this raises the critical question: What is best for Nigeria? Working with local partners makes the most sense from a hospitality perspective, but who should hoteliers be looking to partner with? Is an international group with a name but no African experience the way to go, or should a hotel management company have an African track record to be most successful?

These questions are critical to tourism development in Africa, especially in countries where tourism is a leading forex earner or is fast becoming one. Providing answers is Arthur Gillis, CEO of the Protea Hospitality Group, which is by a wide margin the largest hotel group on the continent, with approximately 130 hotels in 10 countries.

Arthur Gillis, CEO Protea Group

Arthur Gillis, CEO Protea Group

In an exclusive online interview with The Guardian, Gillis said: “One of our foundation principles is to seek local partners when entering a new market. We are hospitality experts and we have never claimed to be anything else, so we partner with those people who are the legal and financial experts in their home countries. It helps us get a better understanding of the needs in each country and gives us a business plan to follow that creates hotels of the highest standard where they are needed, where they will be profitable and where they will create employment.

“That doesn’t change, no matter where you are working in Africa. There are sometimes challenges like guaranteeing reliable Wi-Fi, but as a continent we all want to create long term and sustainable growth, so we all work towards that goal.”

For Gillis, Nigeria is the priority market. Outside of South Africa, the country has the greatest number of Protea Hospitality Group hotels and plans to double its presence within five years. “We currently have 11 hotels, the latest of which is Protea Hotel Select Emotan that opened in Benin City in February.

“Investing in Nigeria makes sense in every way; the country is the most populous in Africa, its economy is about to overtake South Africa as the continent’s biggest, the economic growth forecast is extremely optimistic and it has immense resources that the rest of the world wants. That means the world travels to Nigeria and we believe we are setting the hospitality benchmark for superlative hotels and service.

“To illustrate that, currently the only superior deluxe African Pride Hotel under construction anywhere in Africa right now is going up in Lagos. It will set a new benchmark for five-star luxury in Africa and we will be opening doors next year.”

According to Gillis, the success story of the Protea Hospitality Group is a model for any new entrant into the hospitality sector in Africa. “We started in Africa and work exclusively in Africa, meaning every cent that is made from our hotels remains in Africa. We have been here for 30 years and we are by far the largest hotel group on the continent.”

Africa, for him, is still a tourism destination with its many challenges. “There is absolutely no doubt that Africa is a tourist destination and a very popular one. Security concerns have gone from pervasive to very specific regions and those, too, are shrinking. That is not to say one views the world through rose-tinted spectacles, but the reality is that Africa has had a taste of what it means to flourish economically and nobody wants to give that up. Tourism is a phenomenal forex stream that contributes to development and prosperity.

The Protea Group has been able to drive its growth on the continent in simple consistent ways. “We have three decades of experience in African hospitality. Our expertise in finance, marketing and management, as well as established supply chains and distribution channels, make money for hotel owners and convert guests from once-off visitors to loyal patrons.”

On how Nigeria can develop its hospitality industry and fully maximize its tourism potentials, the Protea group chief noted that the first hurdle has been cleared with government understanding the opportunities and revenue streams a thriving tourism trade can bring to the country.

“This has accorded the industry priority status after oil and gas. Without government buy-in, very few industries would survive in the world, so it’s a good start. That said, it falls to entrepreneurs to take those leaps of faith and commit to growing the hospitality industry. All the action won’t only be in the big cities, though.

“As with every country in the world, business travel is the lifeblood of the hospitality industry and more opportunities to develop hotels in secondary nodes will occur as regional development expands.

“The recipe for success is simple: create a world-class product, give it a trusted brand name, train staff well, install talented managers with sound financial knowledge and always remember that the reason you are there is to create a phenomenal guest experience. If you stick to those rules, you simply can’t lose.

MIT Students Engage Nigerian Kids With Robotics

By Tope Templer Olaiya

It’s a changing world; from chanting ‘Who is in the garden’ to ‘Bojuboju, o loro bo’ to playing ludo game, snake and ladder and recently computer games and play stations, today’s kids are now learning to have fun and outsmart each other with robots.
This much was put to test last weekend at the Exposure Robotics Academy (XRA) grand finale, after 45 secondary school kids had spent five weeks in the summer academy at Grange School, GRA, Ikeja.
The programme, which is in its second year is being taught by five instructors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and three teaching assistants from Columbia University and the University of Ibadan.
Robotics, a branch of technology that deals with the design, construction, operation, and application of robots is a combination of hard science, mathematics, computer programming, and mechanical engineering, among others.
Students, representing 14 different states across Nigeria participated in the programme, which organizers say was aimed at teaching kids how to think creatively and apply theoretical knowledge to practical life situations. At the grand finale, the students competed against one another in groups of three to demonstrate the skills they had acquired during the programme.
This was witnessed by representatives of the programme sponsors, which included Alhaji Abdulrazaq Isa, chairman, Katchey Company Limited; Mrs. Kate Isa, CEO, Katchey Company Limited; Akeeb Akinola, Regional IM&T Manager, Shell Upstream Africa; and Enyioma Anaba, Head of Marketing, Interswitch.

Exposure Robotics Academy class of 2013 at Grange School, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos

Exposure Robotics Academy class of 2013 at Grange School, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos

The theme of the contest was Robotics Assisting Surgery and the winning team, Team Dbig, comprising Madukwe Chidozie, SS 2 student of Government College, Ughelli; Onyeahialam Gregory, SS 3 student of Kings College, Lagos; and Bio-Ibogomo Ebi, SS 3 student of New Total Child Academy, Bayelsa, used their robots to demonstrate how nano technology can be used carry out bone transplant, by sending nano robots into the body of human beings to perform the surgery.
For Obinna Okwodu, president of XRA and a student at MIT, it was pure joy for him watching some of the kids grow from never having used a computer to writing intelligent codes in the space of five weeks and making robots do complex tasks.
“We saw the need for Nigerian students to be taught how to think critically. Much of that is not going on in our educational system, which this programme aims to achieve because robotics teaches children to solve problems on their own by thinking their way through complex situations,” he said.
Noting that not all the kids would become robotics engineer in future, Okwodu said the skills learnt, which emphasizes three important things: problem solving, creative thinking and teamwork, are qualities that will go with them through life.
“I attended Grange School for my primary education and Olashore International School, so I have pass through the educational system here and have seen the things that need to be fixed. The XRA team put heads together and decided to fill this need through the six weeks training and we are happy with the outcome.
Obinna’s verdict after the curtain fell on this year’s summer programme was that the kids in America are not smarter than Nigerians. “Our kids are smarter because this programme they have learnt in five weeks is what students use a whole year to learn, but they mastered the use of robots in five weeks.”

The robotics instructors

The robotics instructors

Beckley Emmanuella, student of Holy-child College, Ikoyi, was short of words to describe her experience. “There is just not one way to describe my experience at the programme. At first when we came, we were all wondering what it was all about and when we got introduced to coding, we were all frustrated with our first attempt at writing programs.
“Sometimes, we just run the code and the robots, which do not have emotions, just decide to do something different. We were all getting frustrated but it was part of the lessons we were being taught, especially on the way we approach problems and apply it to our everyday life. We were taught to think well and fast of ways to solve problems.
“This was completely different to the learning style we are used to, which is spending a lot of time copying notes and memorizing them few days before exams. The robots’ experience was a practical one. The robots also taught us their lessons, to keep trying and never give up, that failure is the route to success. When you fail, you keep trying at it until you succeed.”

The Kabukabu renaissance in Lagos

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor

Like it was chanted by protesting animals in George Orwell’s famous satirist classic, Animal Farm, “four legs good, two legs bad,” the stark reality of this axiom has dawned on transport operators in Lagos State.
The new transport policy in Governor Babatunde Fashola’s mega-city is ‘two legs bad, three legs fair, but anything on four legs good’; which is in relation to motorcycles (Okada), tricycles (Keke NAPEP), and vehicles respectively.
Nothing else explains the agenda, being released in phases, to turn Lagos into an elitist society. First, it was the gradual phase out of okadas, now the clampdown has been switched on to another means of public transportation – commercial tricycles, popularly known as Keke Napep or Keke Marwa.
Few weeks back, the Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, disclosed at the 2013 Ministerial Press Briefing held in Alausa to mark the sixth anniversary of Fashola’s administration, that the state government has “agreed with the operator’s unions to outlaw the operation of tricycles on some Lagos roads.”
Some of the roads captured in the ban include the entire Victoria Island, Government Residential Area (GRA) in Ikeja and Ikoyi, Awolowo road, Awolowo way and Alausa in Ikeja, and the entire major roads in Surulere Local Government.
Opeifa had warned that tri-cycling isn’t a replacement for Okada in the state, quoting Section 3 of the 2012 Lagos Road Traffic Law, which outlawed the operation of tricycle in the state.

Keke NAPEP... The People's Choice

Keke NAPEP… The People’s Choice

He said: “It isn’t a sustainable means of transport for the state, especially Lagos that is a megacity. I learnt that some Okada riders have began to sell their motorcycle to buy tricycle, but they can no longer operate on these major roads again.”
Operators and users of Keke NAPEP went to town and cried themselves hoarse about how the governor was trying to aggravate poverty, which the scheme was meant to eradicate, in the hope that the mob effect would cause government to rescind its decision.
Immediately, several factions of the operator’s unions engaged government officials in endless close-door sessions. Mute was the word from the lips of the operator’s representatives after each round of meetings, while hopes were raised on how the policy would either be jettisoned or implemented with a human face.
However, while the supposed interregnum lingered, the policy, last week, rode to town in full force, as Keke NAPEP became haram in all the proscribed areas.
This left passengers, who had slowly grown accustom to the absence of Okadas, stranded. Many resorted to trekking long distances, a few joined available taxis, while some others just turned back or board a bus, ready to roam the city in circles until they are closer to their destination.

But trust bustling Lagosians, who are always quick to see opportunities in every problem, an old means of transportation was revived to ease the situation and few days after Keke NAPEP disappeared from VI, GRAs and Surulere, Kabukabus have suddenly emerged from nowhere to fill the void.
Kabukabu or Bolekaja (meaning come down and let’s fight) is a form of shared taxi, which is the transportation system prevalent in most Nigerian cities and villages. These cabs, which are mostly rickety, pose even more problems than Keke NAPEP, which it has come to replace.
In the mega-city dream of the governor, these old wobbly vehicles, whose sounds could wake the dead while their exhaust fumes blind the view of vehicles in their rear, should actually not be found in 21st century Lagos.
They not only pose environmental hazards, placed under scrutiny, they are bound to fail every facet of roadworthiness test. Curiously, LASTMA and VIO officials look the other way when sighted on the road. Their gaze instead is turned on SUVs and decent-looking vehicles.

An angry Lagosian, who has had to report late for work no matter how early he left home, told The Guardian “Keke NAPEP is the least of our problems in Lagos State.
“It was wrong for the governor to keep pushing out his anti-poor policies without providing alternatives. This new policy will only increase criminality and unemployment. Fashola should know that fingers are not equal and Lagos does not belong only to owners of Range Rovers and Land Cruisers. More importantly, he should not destroy the platform and party that brought him to power through his anti-masses policies.”

Tired of playing Big Brother, Fashola bares fangs on the destitute

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor
Akeem Musbau, aged 13, is a stranger’s delight asking for directions in Oshodi. Having spent five years in Lagos, he knows all bends and corners of the city’s melting port of Oshodi and neighbouring settlements of Mafoluku, Ladipo, Orile-Oshodi and Ilupeju.
Any street name that doesn’t register in Akeem’s memory simply does not exist in Oshodi, a skill acquired after long days of wandering and later hawking on the streets of Lagos. After arriving the nation’s commercial city centre from Abeokuta, he found shelter in the old rowdy Oshodi before Fashola’s demolition squad cleared the market.
He temporarily lost his shanty abode and was forced to pound the streets every night looking for a place to lay his head after a long day joining other truants to pick pockets and engage in petty crimes.
When Oshodi no longer became ‘safe’ to play pranks, he decided to be useful to himself. In 2009, he began hawking sachet water, sweets and biscuits, but returns were not encouraging. He determined to take up a regular job as a sales person, but was rejected when he failed to provide a reliable person as his guarantor.

A young boy cleaning a car's windscreen to survive

A young boy cleaning a car’s windscreen to survive

Akeem braved the odds and hit the streets to clean vehicle windshield in traffic, but after being treated with the rough end of life, which saw some of his street-mates end up in KAI Black-maria, detention or sudden death, he is ready to sign off wandering as a pastime.
According to him, he has escaped being bundled out of Lagos by Governor Fashola’s agents of ‘deportation’ by a tinge of mother luck and being street smart, but he is aware he could exhaust his good luck soon. “I want to get a shop and start something, I am not too old to return to school.”
The presence of destitute children and beggars is an eyesore that does not add any beauty to the environment. On every highway, motor parks, markets and fun spots, many in their prime are seen in different shades of rags, coiling on a spot or loafing around to beg for alms.
They constitute great nuisance to the environment in many ways and are a security risk. In civilized societies, destitute children are usually not abandoned, but confined in places where they are taken care of, rehabilitated and reunited with their loved ones. If they are able to pull through, many of them stage a comeback to add value to the society and enhance the essence of humanity. But this is far from the norm in this clime, where they are left to rot away on the streets.
For every ‘Akeem’ roaming the streets of Lagos, there are at least 19 others who have had their dreams truncated by ending up with wrong companies and are, as the Special Adviser to the Lagos State governor on Youths and Social Development, Dr. Enitan Dolapo Badru, described them, “children in conflict with the law.”



At least, 1,708 beggars and destitute have been expelled from Lagos to their various states and countries since January. Badru told The Guardian that in line with the state government’s policy of ridding the streets of beggars and destitute, his office had consistently embarked on an aggressive raid of beggars, the mentally challenged and destitute from the streets, highways and under the bridges.
“In the last one year, a total number of 3,114 beggars/destitute/mentally challenged were rescued in day and night operations. 2,695 were taken to the Rehabilitation and Training Centre, Owutu, Ikorodu, where the state government has made provisions for facilities to help in turning the lives of the destitute/beggars around, while the mentally unstable are given medical attention.
“Forty-eight children and toddlers were transferred to the Child Protection Unit; another 48 street children cleaning wind shields at traffic lights were rescued and transferred to the Special Correctional Centre for Boys, Oregun; eight were transferred to the Child Transit Home, Idi Araba while 315 Persons (203 male and 54 female) suspected to be criminals were however handed over to the Task Force for prosecution. 403 persons were released to their relatives through written applications.
“We found out that a lot of children on the streets of Lagos come from outside the state thinking that Lagos is an Eldorado. It is unfortunate that many of them are underage and very vulnerable because they can be introduced to so many vices. When we rescue them, we try as much as possible to carry out social investigation to know where they actually come from and why they absconded in the first place,” he disclosed.

According to Dr. James Ayangunna, a lecturer with the department of Social Work at the faculty of Education, University of Ibadan, destitution can be grouped under economic, financial and medical forms. “In this part of the world, what seems to be in vogue is the maxim of ‘everybody for himself, God for us all.’ If the wealthy individuals have failed in this regard, it is because government has failed much more in the area of welfarism for destitute.”
Defending the practice of expelling kids rescued from the streets back to their states of origin, Badru noted that normal international standard requires that the state reunite them with their family. “The end result is to reunite them back with their families. We are not repatriating them out of Lagos. Once we rescue, we cannot as a government hold a child under the age of 18 in custody without parental or guardian consent.
“Once we have them in our custody, we must take a court order to keep them since the law provides for that and we cannot keep them indefinitely, so we still need to send them back to their parents. Once the social investigation is carried out and we are positive about their identity, we get in touch with the social welfare services of their state, which would in turn get in touch with the families.”
Badru’s linked the growing number of destitute children to polygamy. “When a woman goes into another man’s house taking her children along who has been previously married with children, some of the step children end up being maltreated by a hostile step-father or step-mum. Such a child would try as much as possible to escape being abused.

“Motor parks are their first port of call once they arrive Lagos before they now move to under the bridges and uncompleted buildings. We can’t be raiding motor parks everyday; that would create unpleasant signals to those coming to Lagos. A child can travel genuinely and it is no offense for a child to travel alone. We don’t want to start harassing every child we see disembarking from a bus at motor parks when we are not at war.
“However, what is important is for the family to be together and start teaching morals. Parents should shun abuse of children whether biological or adopted, we should not be abuser of children. Once we can deal with issues at the home front, destitution would be drastically reduced. The fewer criminals out there, the better for us; we can sleep with our two eyes closed at night.”
A social worker and CEO of Fair Life Africa Foundation, Mrs. Ufuoma Emerhor Ashogbon, said children are displaced when the fabric of the family is torn. She laid the blame for this rising phenomenon on the breakdown on family values.
“We can’t blame children for the street child phenomenon, any more than we can blame our feet for where we are going. Children are born into a structured world, and try to find their place in it. They need guidance from their parents, other adults and the government to stay on the right path.
“Yes, there are badly behaved children, but not bad children. With proper attention, teaching and discipline, children can learn how to make the right choices and function in their environment. In the absence of these, we will have a problem on our hands. Parents, as the individual leaders of their homes, must take responsibility for the state of their homefront,” she noted.
A social welfare practitioner, Mr. Kehinde Akinyemi, believes that the menace can be tackled with government coming up with legislations that will frown on destitution in the society. According to him, a mechanism should be adopted to evacuate them to asylums where they can be taken care of. “Today, many states do not have welfare schemes or asylums where the destitute can be rehabilitated, which is why there is the lure to come to Lagos to survive.”
He also advocated that the legislation should include certain punishment for families that isolate any deranged member of their family or found to have abused their children. He further queried the Lagos State government’s practice of picking people on the streets and dumping them on their states of origin.
“The approach of evacuation in Lagos is guerrilla-like. They just take the destitute to their various states, dump them on the street in the midnight and zoom back to Lagos, only for the evacuated kids to take another ‘flight’ back to where they had been evacuated from.”
Jiti Ogunye, a Lagos-based lawyer, said such repatriation, as a government policy is not an illegal and unconstitutional act.
“Lagos State, as a responsible government, has the power to encourage, very actively and aggressively, people within the state who are Nigerians to return to their states if they are destitute or beggars,” Mr. Ogunye said.
“It is sheer blackmail for a state to take care of lunatics from another state. No state government that is wallowing in the pit of corruption should be allowed to abdicate its responsibility.”

The Daily Habits of 12 Famous Writers

By James Clear
We often assume that great things are done by those who were blessed with natural talent, genius, and skill, but how many great things could have been done by people who never fully realized their potential? I think many of us, myself included, are capable of much more than we typically produce — our best work is often still hiding inside of us.
How can you pull that potential out of yourself and share it with the world? Perhaps, the best way is to develop better daily routines. When you look at the top performers in any field, you see something that goes much deeper than intelligence or skill. They possess an incredible willingness to do the work that needs to be done. They are masters of their daily routines.
As an example of what separates successful people from the rest of the pack, take a look at some of the daily routines of famous writers from past and present. At the end of the article, I’ll break down some common themes that you can apply to your daily routines — regardless of your goals.

E.B. White: “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”

E.B. White

E.B. White

In an interview with The Paris Review, E.B. White, the famous author of Charlotte’s Web, talked about his daily writing routine…
“I never listen to music when I’m working. I haven’t that kind of attentiveness, and I wouldn’t like it at all. On the other hand, I’m able to work fairly well among ordinary distractions. My house has a living room that is at the core of everything that goes on: it is a passageway to the cellar, to the kitchen, to the closet where the phone lives. There’s a lot of traffic. But it’s a bright, cheerful room, and I often use it as a room to write in, despite the carnival that is going on all around me.
“In consequence, the members of my household never pay the slightest attention to my being a writing man — they make all the noise and fuss they want to. If I get sick of it, I have places I can go. A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”

Haruki Murakami: “The repetition itself becomes the important thing.”

Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami

In a 2004 interview, Murakami discussed his physical and mental habits…
“When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at four a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for ten kilometers or swim for fifteen hundred meters (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at nine p.m. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.
“But to hold to such repetition for so long — six months to a year — requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.”

Ernest Hemingway: “I write every morning.”

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway

In an interview with George Plimpton, Hemingway revealed his daily routine…
“When I am working on a book or a story, I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there.
“You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that.
“When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.”

Henry Miller: “When you can’t create you can work.”

Henry Miller

Henry Miller

In 1932, the famous writer and painter, Henry Miller, created a work schedule that listed his “Commandments” for him to follow as part of his daily routine. This list was published in the book, Henry Miller on Writing.

1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
2. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
3. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
4. When you can’t create you can work.
5. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
6. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
7. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
8. Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
9. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
10. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.

Kurt Vonnegut: “I do pushups and sit ups all the time.”

Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut

In 1965, Vonnegut wrote a letter to his wife Jane about his daily writing habits, which was published in the recent book: Kurt Vonnegut: Letters.

“I awake at 5:30, work until 8:00, eat breakfast at home, work until 10:00, walk a few blocks into town, do errands, go to the nearby municipal swimming pool, which I have all to myself, and swim for half an hour, return home at 11:45, read the mail, eat lunch at noon. In the afternoon I do schoolwork, either teach or prepare. When I get home from school at about 5:30, I numb my twanging intellect with several belts of Scotch and water, cook supper, read and listen to jazz, slip off to sleep at ten. I do pushups and sit-ups all the time, and feel as though I am getting lean and sinewy, but maybe not.”

Jodi Picoult: “You can’t edit a blank page.”

Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult

The last seven books Jodi Picoult has written have all hit number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list. In an interview with Noah Charney, she talks about her approach to writing and creating…
“I don’t believe in writer’s block. Think about it — when you were blocked in college and had to write a paper, didn’t it always manage to fix itself the night before the paper was due? Writer’s block is having too much time on your hands. If you have a limited amount of time to write, you just sit down and do it. You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”

Maya Angelou: “Easy reading is damn hard writing.”

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

In a 2013 interview with The Daily Beast, the American author and poet discussed her writing career and her daily work habits…
“I keep a hotel room in my hometown and pay for it by the month. I go around 6:30 in the morning. I have a bedroom, with a bed, a table, and a bath. I have Roget’s Thesaurus, a dictionary, and the Bible. Usually a deck of cards and some crossword puzzles, something to occupy my little mind. I think my grandmother taught me that. She didn’t mean to, but she used to talk about her “little mind.” So when I was young, from the time I was about 3 until 13, I decided that there was a Big Mind and a Little Mind. And the Big Mind would allow you to consider deep thoughts, but the Little Mind would occupy you, so you could not be distracted. It would work crossword puzzles or play Solitaire, while the Big Mind would delve deep into the subjects I wanted to write about.
“I have all the paintings and any decoration taken out of the room. I ask the management and housekeeping not to enter the room, just in case I’ve thrown a piece of paper on the floor, I don’t want it discarded. About every two months I get a note slipped under the door: “Dear Ms. Angelou, please let us change the linen. We think it may be moldy!”
“But I’ve never slept there, I’m usually out of there by 2. And then I go home and I read what I’ve written that morning, and I try to edit then. Clean it up. Easy reading is damn hard writing. But if it’s right, it’s easy. It’s the other way round, too. If it’s slovenly written, then it’s hard to read. It doesn’t give the reader what the careful writer can give the reader.”

Barbara Kingsolver: “I have to write hundreds of pages before I get to page one.”

Barbara Kingsolver

Barbara Kingsolver

The Pulitzer Prize nominee has written over a dozen books, the last nine of which have all made the New York Times bestseller list. During a 2012 interview, she talked about her daily routine as a writer and a mother…
“I tend to wake up very early. Too early. Four o’clock is standard. My morning begins with trying not to get up before the sun rises. But when I do, it’s because my head is too full of words, and I just need to get to my desk and start dumping them into a file. I always wake with sentences pouring into my head. So getting to my desk every day feels like a long emergency. It’s a funny thing: people often ask how I discipline myself to write. I can’t begin to understand the question. For me, the discipline is turning off the computer and leaving my desk to do something else.
“I write a lot of material that I know I’ll throw away. It’s just part of the process. I have to write hundreds of pages before I get to page one. For the whole of my career as a novelist, I have also been a mother. I was offered my first book contract, for The Bean Trees, the day I came home from the hospital with my first child. So I became a novelist and mother on the same day. Those two important lives have always been one for me. I’ve always had to do both at the same time. So my writing hours were always constrained by the logistics of having my children in someone else’s care. My children have taught me everything about life and about the kind of person I want to be in the world. They anchor me to the future in a concrete way. Being a mother has made me a better writer. It’s also true to say that being a writer has made me a better mother.”

Nathan Englander: “Turn off your cell phone.”

Nathan Englander

Nathan Englander

Englander is an award–winning short story writer, and in this interview he talks about his quest to eliminate all distractions from his writing routine…
“Turn off your cell phone. Honestly, if you want to get work done, you’ve got to learn to unplug. No texting, no email, no Facebook, no Instagram. Whatever it is you’re doing, it needs to stop while you write. A lot of the time (and this is fully goofy to admit), I’ll write with earplugs in — even if it’s dead silent at home.”

Karen Russell: “Enjoy writing badly.”

Karen Russell

Karen Russell

Russell has only written one book … and it was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. In an interview with The Daily Beast, she talks about her daily struggle to overcome distraction and write…
“I know many writers who try to hit a set word count every day, but for me, time spent inside a fictional world tends to be a better measure of a productive writing day. I think I’m fairly generative as a writer, I can produce a lot of words, but volume is not the best metric for me. It’s more a question of, did I write for four or five hours of focused time, when I did not leave my desk, didn’t find some distraction to take me out of the world of the story? Was I able to stay put and commit to putting words down on the page, without deciding mid-sentence that it’s more important to check my email, or “research” some question online, or clean out the science fair projects in the back for my freezer?
“I’ve decided that the trick is just to keep after it for several hours, regardless of your own vacillating assessment of how the writing is going. Showing up and staying present is a good writing day. I think it’s bad so much of the time. The periods where writing feels effortless and intuitive are, for me, as I keep lamenting, rare. But I think that’s probably the common ratio of joy to despair for most writers, and I definitely think that if you can make peace with the fact that you will likely have to throw out 90 percent of your first draft, then you can relax and even almost enjoy “writing badly.”

A.J. Jacobs: “Force yourself to generate dozens of ideas.”

A.J. Jacobs

A.J. Jacobs

In an interview for the series, How I Write, Jacobs talks about his daily writing routines and dishes out some advice for young writers…
“My kids wake me up. I have coffee. I make my kids breakfast, take them to school, then come home and try to write. I fail at that until I force myself to turn off my Internet access so I can get a little shelter from the information storm. I am a big fan of outlining. I write an outline. Then a slightly more detailed outline. Then another with even more detail. Sentences form, punctuation is added, and eventually it all turns into a book.”
Jacobs has advice for young writers, too…
“Force yourself to generate dozens of ideas. A lot of those ideas will be terrible. Most of them, in fact. But there will be some sparkling gems in there too. Try to set aside 20 minutes a day just for brainstorming.

Khaled Housseni: “You have to write whether you feel like it or not.”

Khaled Housseni

Khaled Housseni

In an interview with Noah Charney, Housseni talks about his daily writing habits and the essential things that all writers have to do…
“I don’t outline at all, I don’t find it useful, and I don’t like the way it boxes me in. I like the element of surprise and spontaneity, of letting the story find its own way. For this reason, I find that writing a first draft is very difficult and laborious. It is also often quite disappointing. It hardly ever turns out to be what I thought it was, and it usually falls quite short of the ideal I held in my mind when I began writing it. I love to rewrite, however. A first draft is really just a sketch on which I add layer and dimension and shade and nuance and color. Writing for me is largely about rewriting. It is during this process that I discover hidden meanings, connections, and possibilities that I missed the first time around. In rewriting, I hope to see the story getting closer to what my original hopes for it were.
“I have met so many people who say they’ve got a book in them, but they’ve never written a word. To be a writer — this may seem trite, I realize — you have to actually write. You have to write every day, and you have to write whether you feel like it or not. Perhaps most importantly, write for an audience of one — yourself. Write the story you need to tell and want to read. It’s impossible to know what others want so don’t waste time trying to guess. Just write about the things that get under your skin and keep you up at night.

How to Apply This to Your Life
These daily routines work well for writing, but their lessons can be applied to almost any goal you hope to achieve.
For example…
1. Pushing yourself physically prepares you to work hard mentally.
Vonnegut did pushups as a break from writing. Murakami runs 10 kilometers each day. A.J. Jacobs types while walking on a treadmill. You can decide what works for you, but make sure you get out and move.
2. Do the most important thing first.
Notice how many excellent writers start writing in the morning? That’s no coincidence. They work on their goals before the rest of the day gets out of control. They aren’t wondering when they’re going to write and they aren’t battling to “fit it in” amongst their daily activities because they are doing the most important thing first.
3. Embrace the struggle and do hard work.
Did you see how many writers mentioned their struggle to write? Housseni said that his first drafts are “difficult” and “laborious” and “disappointing.” Russell called her writing “bad.” Kingsolver throws out a hundred pages before she gets to the first page of a book.
Only by battling through the hard work will you ever get to the good work. What often looks like failure in the beginning is actually the foundation of success.

James Clear writes at, where he uses a blend of real-world experiences and proven research to share ideas for rethinking and improving your life.