Francis Muroki walked into our offices carrying a huge portrait and clinging to it like his life depended on it. I was amused and curious at the same time. We exchanged pleasantries and settled down for the interview as he unwrapped and proudly spread the portrait on the table. It was a congratulatory message from Pope John Paul II, on Muroki’s wedding day in 1986. I was now more alert, as I sought for more details.
“The Pope’s congratulatory message was read by the presiding minister on our wedding day at the Holy Family Bascillica in Nairobi. Several priests, deacons, seminarians, bishops and archbishops co-celebrated the mass. My wife and I exchanged our golden wedding rings, which arrived from the Vatican, Rome, on the morning of the wedding along with the Pope’s message. We had a fabulous wedding and an enviable start of our marriage.
Severally, I had gone to Rome on official duty while working in the media and for the Catholic Church as an editor and writer of the various magazines owned by the Church. I had also met the Pope in person when he visited Kenya in 1997. The portrait is the only possession that survived the onslaught in my house that visited me later. Consequently, the vows I made that day have no meaning anymore.
It was my day for double blessings when I got a job in 1985 in the editorial department of the then Kenya Times Media Trust in Nairobi. I also met and fell in love with a young girl working in the advertising department. We courted for a year and our love culminated with us walking down the aisle in 1986.
Our marriage was blessed with three children who arrived in quick succession. They were all born at the Nairobi Hospital. At the time, the hospital demanded early booking and deposit payment three months in advance for any woman who wished to deliver there. I wasn’t cowed since I wanted to give my family the best start in life. I also hired a highly qualified paediatrician to take care of my children, as they all had challenges at birth.
Our first child was born in 1987 had bouts of serious tonsillitis for the better part of his childhood. I recall frequenting hospitals and paying huge bills until he finally outgrew his condition. Our second child was born in 1988 after a very difficult pregnancy. We were so afraid that the baby would be born prematurely. Luckily, this wasn’t the case and the baby girl was born healthy.
And in 1990, our last child was born through a Caesarean section. After the Caesarean section, my wife developed a hernia – a very painful condition that cost a lot of money to treat. Her medical bills were so high that I overspent on my medical cover from my employer. I also took some time off work to care for her. As a result of spending too much time out of the office and claiming more than I should have on the medical cover, everything snowballed into a huge problem and I eventually lost my job at a time when I desperately needed it.
Putting family first… Thankfully, while I was employed I had
bought land and built a beautiful permanent home in Nairobi’s Ongata
Rongai area where we settled. Additionally, we were a prayerful family
and went to church together. In deed, my wife and I held special duties
in our local church and were members of the Marriage Encounter– a
catholic group that trains and encourages couples on practical ways to
good marriage. We then graduated to marriage counsellors, often helping
many couples and couples-to-be. In addition, I was a writer on family
issues in the Catholic publications and ran a column titled ‘The Family’
in one of the publications.
My priority was to give my children a good foundation and we enrolled them in good private schools in Meru, Molo and Kisumu. I was big about cars and often sent my wife to Dubai to buy and ship our personal cars and matatus, since we operated a fleet of matatus in Ongata Rongai area. This was also a chance to expose her to the world and broaden her knowledge. All the vehicles were registered in her name because I was a believer that in a marriage, there should be no division of property.
Onset of trouble…
Eventually in 2007, I left the mainstream media and had spells of being jobless. The financial situation got worse and progressively started affecting our marriage. Luckily by the end of 2007, I got a short-term contract with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) of training and reporting on the post-election violence.
By the time the contract ended, our children had completed their high school. Our firstborn enrolled at Strathmore University in 2008, the same year I also enrolled for an evening programe for a communications degree at the Daystar University. In 2009, our other two children enrolled at the Kenya Methodist University (KEMU) in Nairobi. Luckily, my wife who at the time had a steady job in the insurance industry, helped pay their school fees.
I struggled to complete my course at Daystar as well as look for a job. It wasn’t easy and my wife was getting jittery about my jobless status and failure to provide for my family. Sometimes it was embarrassing when my children asked me to buy them something but I could not afford it. With time they lost respect for me and my wife didn’t help matters, as she would put me down in their presence. She also changed her attitude towards me.
Alienated by family…
One night in 2010, I fell and hurt my knee near our home as I was coming from evening classes. My family was not bothered when I got into the house in bloodstained clothes. That was the painful beginning of my isolation.
Subsequently, I came home one evening in January 2011 and was held captive by my family. My son secured the front door with a chair and kept guard so that I couldn’t get out. My wife and children humiliated me for hours. They were spoiling for a fight. My eldest son openly challenged me to a physical fight, as he verbally abused me. It was a very painful experience.
After this incident, my wife hired transport and packed all our household items and walked out of our 24-year marriage taking along the children. A very sentimental item, a 29-inch TV media award that I won in 2004 and received in Bangkok, Thailand, wasn’t spared either. I was devastated and moved into a lodging in Ongata Rongai until it became financially untenable. I moved back into my empty home where I still live alone to this day.
I developed severe depression and have severally contemplated on drowning my sorrows in alcohol. On learning about my marriage break-up, my mother went into shock and collapsed. She never regained consciousness and died in hospital three weeks later, towards the end of April 2011. After her burial, I picked a few items from her house and returned to my house to start life afresh.
At 55, I am lonely and only left with memories of my now broken family. I am back to where I started as a young man, with nothing to my name. I have become a total stranger to my family as was evident in mid last year during my children’s graduation. I was not invited and only learnt about the gradation from family friends. The bible has been my best companion, adviser and consoler.
Don’t sit on your laurels… I thought I had done the best for my family but today am wiser. Even when you think you are comfortable and settled in your seemingly lasting marriage, don’t bask in your glory. I have since learnt that, just because your spouse is a Christian doesn’t mean they are saints. Now I know what it means to have and lose a family.
Rivers, Imo Teachers Shine As Promasidor Marks World Teachers Day With Special Cowbellpedia Teacher’s Mathematics TV Quiz Show
It was a reversal of roles for teachers last weekend as Promasidor Nigeria Limited, makers of “Cowbell, Our Milk”, marked the 2019 World Teachers Day with special (Teacher’s edition) of Cowbellpedia Mathematics Quiz Show to celebrate the teachers.
The twelve teachers, who produced the finalists in the Junior and Senior categories of the 2018 edition of the competition, contested for honours and prizes.
In the Junior category, Mr Paul Fase of Graceland International School, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, outclassed others with 105 points, to win the star prize. Fase was the teacher of Favour Okarike who emerged as second runner-up in 2018 finals.
On the heels of Fase was Kayode Adebayo, a teacher from The Ambassadors College, Ota, Ogun State who garnered 95 points to emerge as first runner-up, while Godwin Udom, his counterpart from the same school, scored 75 point to become the second runner-up.
Adebayo’s student, Master Akinleye Akinfoluhan was the junior category champion in the 2018 edition while Udom’s pupil, Loluwa Abiodun was a finalist.
Other teachers who also participated in the contest but fell by the way side include Beckley Daniel of Welkin International School, Ota, Ogun State; Hamzat Dankanawa a teacher from Nigerian Tulip International College (Boys) Abuja and David Akuru from Jesuit Memorial College, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Fase with a five years’ experience in the teaching profession, expressed gratitude to God for winning, maintaining that he now appreciates what the students are going through. “It is very easy to blame the students for lack of speed and for errors, but I now know it is not that easy,” he admitted.
In the Senior category, Ebock Inah-Ngulu, a teacher from Federal Government College, Owerri, Imo State, got the crown with 75 points. His student, Jessica Austine, was a finalist last year.
Christopher Olasupo of Graceland International College, Port Harcourt, Rivers State and Anfani Egbeyemi of The Ambassador College, Ota, Ogun State came second and third respectively. Olasupo’s student, Chinedu Mgbemena was the 2018 senior category champion, while Egbeyemi taught Enoch Adenekan, a 2018 finalist.
The trio successfully shrugged off the challenge from Oladipo Olatunde of The Ambassador College; Olalekan Olowe from Reality High School, Ilesha, Osun State and Samson Otunubi, a teacher from Federal Government Academy, Suleja, Niger State.
All the teachers commended Promasidor for the initiative which they described as a big morale booster for teachers across the country, adding that teaching requires passion, but teaching Mathematics demands a ‘special anointing’ because of the nature of the subject and the misconception by students and parents.
The students will come back to ‘battle’ this weekend as the semi-finals of the Cowbellpedia Quiz Show continues with 36 students jostling for 12 final slots. The airing also continues on DSTV Africa Magic Family Channel, AIT Network and other six television stations across the country.
Aside the N2 million grand prize, Managing Director of Promasidor Nigeria Limited, Mr. Anders Einarsson disclosed that the winner in each category, (Junior and Senior) will enjoy an all-expense paid educational excursion outside the country at the end of the initiative.
In addition, the first and second runners-up in each category will receive N1.5 million and N1 million respectively, while the teachers of the top prize winners will be awarded N500, 000. Those of the first and second runners-up will receive N400, 000 and N300, 000 respectively.
Sultan of Sokoto reveals how to end security challenges in Nigeria
President-General of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs and Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, has called for the development and adoption of homegrown solutions to the security challenges facing the country.
Abubakar made the call in Sokoto on Monday, during a Town Hall Meeting on Security Matters organised by the Sultanate Council in collaboration with the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Sokoto State council, NAN reports.
Abubakar decried the rising security threats in the northern region.
He emphasized the need for a strong partnership between political leaders and traditional rulers towards finding lasting solutions to the challenges.
The Sultan expressed disappointment over the alleged involvement of some traditional rulers in the activities of armed bandits in parts of Zamfara.
He advocated prosecution of any traditional ruler involved in the supporting banditry and other criminal activities.
Gov. Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto called for the strengthening of all law enforcement agencies and other institutions that promote peace in the country.
Tambuwal lamented the shortage of manpower in some of the security agencies, stressing the need for a total review of the nation’s security architecture.
He also called for more funding and proper intelligence gathering as well as collaboration with the traditional institution for better results.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that three key speakers; Gen. Ishola Williams (rtd), Emir of Zamfara, Alhaji Muhammad Attahiru-Ahmad and Prof. Tukur Baba of Federal University Birnin Kebbi presented papers at the meeting.
The lecturers dwelled on the need for drastic approaches to security matters, overhauling of security structures, community involvement in tracking security breaches, increased professional training and viable economic empowerment at all strata of the society.
Buhari govt insists on VAT increment, gives reason
Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, has insisted that Value Added Tax (VAT) has to increase.
She said this while noting that the nation will not be able to reach 80 per cent revenue performance for 2019.
Ahmed at the public presentation of the 2020 budget proposals, said that as at half year, the actual aggregate revenue for 2019 was N2.04 trillion, which was 58 per cent of the prorate target.
Ahmed said of the figure, oil revenue accounted for N900 billion, Company Income Tax (CIT) N349.11 billion, Value Added Tax (VAT) N81.36 billion and Customs Collections N184.10 billion.
“As to whether we will reach the N8.33 trillion at the end of 2019 is very unlikely and that is why we have to make special efforts to boost revenue performance”, NAN quoted her as saying.
“It is clear that we can not reach even 80 per cent and that is why we have to do several things to make sure that revenue performance is enhanced.
“Releases did not start until late July and as at last week we had scheduled and releases are now up to N650 billion.”
According to her, N294.63 billion was released for capital expenditure as at the end of September, but the target is to be able to reach N900 billion by the end of December 2019.
Ahmed said that of the total appropriation of N8.92 trillion, N3.39 trillion had been spent by June 30, as against the prorated expenditure budget of N4.58 trillion, representing 76 per cent performance.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 2019 Appropriation Bill was presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on Dec. 19, 2018, but was signed into law on May 27, 2019.
The N8.92 trillion budget had a revenue projection of N6.97 trillion, consisting of oil revenue projected at N3.73 trillion while non-oil revenue was estimated at N1.39 trillion.
Estimates for non-oil revenue consisted of N799.52 billion from CIT, N229.34 billion from VAT and Customs Duties of N302.55 billion.
The 2019 budget was predicated on oil production of 2.3 million barrels per day at 60 dollars per barrel and an exchange rate of N305 per dollar.
On the issue of border closure, she said only the main borders that were manned by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and other security operatives were closed.
She added that the nation had seen the benefits of the closure and that though there were some challenges, the NCS and the committee working on the borders closure was looking at how to ease some of the difficulties.
“It has to be Nigeria first and we have to protect our own industries because some of our neighbours have been flagrantly abusing commitments that we jointly signed to and the President has said this is no longer acceptable.
“The border closure is not forever, there will be an end date, the Federal Government is currently in discussion with governments of our neighbouring countries Niger and Benin Republic.
“We are negotiating to make sure that the challenges that led to the closure of the borders are addressed on both sides but, especially that our neighbors meet the commitments that we signed unto several years ago.
“Once those discussions are concluded, the borders will be opened again,” she said.
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