If I had my way, mental health assessments would be compulsory for all public officers. The reasons for this should be obvious.
How many times have you heard people say, ‘If I had my way,’ then they would go ahead to list all those things they would do, if they had the final say on the matter? Every one of us has such a list. This is mine.
• If I had my way, there would be only three political parties and there would be no elections. Each party would meet with a hundred delegates each drawn from various interest groups, along the lines of a constitutional conference. The conference would have a critical outcome – everyone gets something. Apart from the politicians leading the process, the ‘delegates’ would include a fair number of ‘security consultants,’ aka ‘thugs’, prayer warriors, pastors, imams, ‘babalawos’, youth (aka ‘yuut’), praise-singers and so on. After a period of three days, each party would have agreed to a process of power-sharing. The party with the most effective team would probably emerge with the most spoils, but none of the parties would go home empty-handed. There would also be concessions for those who only have a constituency on social media, the number of followers and likes will make a case for a seat and voice at the table. This is a much cheaper and safer way of deciding who gets what. And there would be no need for ‘vote and cook soup.’
• If I had my way, all indicted rapists and paedophiles would be relieved of their ‘weapons of mass destruction.’ Since some elements in society have taken it upon themselves to wage war on women’s bodies with all the biological and non-biological weapons at their disposal, the least we can do is engage in a process of ‘disarmament.’
• If I had my way, every school would have a sex offenders register. If there is a reported case of sexual assault or harassment by a teacher, it means there was no due diligence in the hiring of such teachers. School authorities should be held accountable for violations against female students. There should be no such thing as, ‘We are not surprised Mr. James has assaulted a female student in Lagos, that is how he impregnated a girl in a school in Warri.’
• If I had my way, History would be taught right from nursery school. I would set up a National Academy of Historians, with a view to training and encouraging a new generation of historians, and I would lure retired History professors out of retirement for them to run it. I would also put out a special appeal, backed with serious resources, to all the African historians comfortably ensconced in Ivy League universities in the United States and Europe.
• If I had my way, I would launch a National Storytelling Competition. This would enable us share our unique gifts of imagination and creativity with the rest of the world, and would serve as a strong mentoring tool for young people. Stories such as, ‘How Jaiye spent two days on a tree hiding from police,’ ‘How David died and Simon took his place’ and ‘How a snake swallowed money in a safe,’ are sure to win top prizes.
• If I had my way, mental health assessments would be compulsory for all public officers. The reasons for this should be obvious.
• If I had my way, all our children would pay for their own wedding. You want to get married? Great! Just give me the date and venue, I will show up. No, I am not paying for the hall, engagement, food, drinks, musician, aso-ebi and flowers. It is your wedding, not mine.
• If I had my way, there would be no churches or mosques in residential areas. Any religious establishments flouting this regulation will be charged with noise pollution. And we would need to revisit the issue of paying taxes by religious bodies.
• If I had my way, every public building would have wheel-chair access. Any building found not to have this would pay a heavy fine, and there would be a motivated task force moving around to ensure compliance.
• If I had my way, everyone responsible for designing forms for the public to fill (immigration, applications and so on) should go through further training to make them more sensitive. Such forms were designed for societies with names such as Fox, Smith or Kent. Not for places where we have names such as Oguguamakwa, Agbongiasedeh and Magbagbeoluwa.
• If I had my way, there would be a National Running Day, during which there would be competitions and prizes at unit, ward, local government and state level. The prizes would be so attractive that, all year round, people young and old would keep fit and practice. The result? A healthier populace less likely to suffer from sudden deaths and a decline in the number of old women persecuted for witchcraft.
• If I had my way, there would be live lie detector technology. This means every time a husband, wife or teenager arrives home to the question ‘where have you been?’ the lie detector would force an involuntary but accurate response. I, however, accept that such technology would be sabotaged within a very short space of time.
• If I had my way, all roads would be tarred, all hospitals would be able to cure their patients, no one would commit suicide out of depression, no woman or girl would be violated, no religious extremist would find anyone willing to listen and there would be no corruption in high or low places.
• If I had my way, everyone would matter.
Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a gender specialist, social entrepreneur and writer. She is the founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She can be reached at [email protected]