The Harvey Weinsteins of Nigeria

The Verdict By Olusegun Adeniyi, Email:

While “The Godfather” remains the most successful novel of Mario Puzo, his second mafia epic, published almost three decades later, “The Last Don”, is equally engrossing as he takes the reader into the inner recesses of Hollywood where licentiousness seems to be the order of the day. Even when a lot of things may have changed, especially within the past two decades since the novel was published, that was still the world inhabited by Mr Harvey Weinstein until the bubble burst with the scandal that may also have changed the entire power dynamic in which women are expected to offer sexual gratification to advance their professional career.

It all started on 5th October, when two reporters with The New York Times, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, authored a story detailing how Weinstein, one of the most powerful American film producers, had, for three decades, been exploiting women in the movie business. He was specifically accused of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape involving, at the last count, no fewer than 60 actresses.

Following that publication, and the follow-up stories by other media outlets which revealed a pattern of sexual misconduct, Weinstein was sacked from the company he co-founded and expelled from all professional associations. But while criminal investigations into complaints against him from several women, who have suddenly found their voices, are ongoing both in the United States and United Kingdom, the scandal has also opened a new vista into the age-old debate about powerful men who abuse their positions to demand sex from women under their authority or influence.

As more and more women come out to expose a fallen Weinstein in the process of telling their stories, it is also becoming clear that those who whimsically violate the dignity of girls and women over whom they have power will no longer get away easily, at least not in the United States. But this is a scandal that has reverberated across the world, even though there is a deafening silence about the issue in Nigeria. That is perhaps because, as someone posted on Twitter, “it will be bloody” to have such exposition in an environment where men believe girls and women are theirs for the taking.

From the campuses of our various institutions of higher learning to the inner sanctuary of religious organisations, government and the corporate world, the Nigerian credo in the relationship between men in authority and women who need their intervention in the line of duty is most often: “Nothing goes for nothing”. And perhaps because of that, at some point in most Nigerian banks, the highest qualification a woman could possess would not be found in her academic credentials but in her physical attributes: fair complexioned and well-proportioned!

Let us be clear here. The charge against Weinstein is neither adultery nor fornication which is a problem between him and his wife (or his God, assuming he believes in one) but rather an issue of abuse of power. It is not about romantic relationships between colleagues in the work place either. It is about Weinstein exploiting his position to extract sexual gratification from actresses in an industry where his word was almost akin to law. Even if they submitted to his whims, as many actually did, it was because they did not want to lose their role in a particular movie or saw their submission as an opportunity to advance their career. Such sexual liaison cannot be described as consensual.

However, it should worry us that there is no discussion about Weinstein in Nigeria, essentially because what he did is a prevalent behaviour in our climes. Teachers sleep with students in exchange for marks. Religious leaders sleep with vulnerable members of their congregations who seek counsel. In the public/civil service, female applicants may need to see some men behind closed doors to secure job offers. Let us not even go into what happens in the private sector.

A 2013 Policy Brief of the National Crime and Safety Survey clearly depicts how our society seems to be living in denial when it comes to the issue of rape, sexual harassment etc. The report goes further to state that the reason why our women hardly come out to shame their oppressors is because of the fear that they would be stigmatised and suffer double jeopardy. But we cannot condone a situation where men use their position to rob the dignity of our girls and women without consequences.

In an article she did for Reuters Foundation two years ago, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani told the story of a 30-year old woman named Amina Ali Pulka who had an affair with a young man who worked in the kitchen at an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp so she could have enough food for her children. Adaobi, one of the finest writers in our country, wrote:

Five months pregnant, Pulka has been abandoned by the kitchen worker, while she has not seen her husband, who lives in the capital of Abuja with another of his wives, for three years. Her oldest daughter, 15, is distraught about her pregnancy. “She asks me why I am pregnant when their father has been away for three years … other people in the camp also ask me questions,” Pulka said. “I did it because of my children.”

Even while living at the margin of society, the young man in the kitchen could still use the little power available to him to oppress another vulnerable victim by demanding sex for extra portions of food. But then, he could do that because he must have seen what was going on around him. In June this year, for instance, the American State Department released the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report which claims that Nigerian government officials, including military, police, and federal and state officials, were involved in widespread exploitation of women and girls in the IDP camps who were often forced “to provide commercial sex acts in exchange for food.”

Signed by Secretary of State, Mr Rex Tillerson, the report quotes President Buhari as having “instructed the inspector general [of police] to create a special panel to investigate cases of sexual exploitation, which resulted in the arrest of seven government officials and two CJTF members for alleged sexual misconduct towards IDPs, including sex trafficking”. Unfortunately, the report also concluded that as at the time of going to press, nothing had happened to the culprits.

Considering the fact that what we deal with here are violations that do not only demean women and girls but often leave victims with lifelong psychological scars, it is important that we generate a conversation around sexual exploitation of women and girls in Nigeria so that we can begin to deal with the problem. Just like other societies.

Maina: Who is Fooling Who?

In discussing the controversy around the reinstatement and promotion of the twice-dismissed former Chairman of the Presidential Task ForceTeam on pension Reforms, Mr Abdulrasheed Maina yesterday at our editorial board meeting, a member said something instructive. According to the person, while the former administration ‘democratised’ corruption, the current one has decided to ‘privatise’ it.

If any proof was ever needed about that summation, readers only have to check out what members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in both the Senate and House of Representatives said on Tuesday in their contributions to the motion on how the former level-14 civil servant with enormous power and wealth suddenly got back his job with promotion and a N22 million bounty in arrears.

While the tragic drama–which exposes the hypocrisy of this government and the so-called fight against corruption–continues, I doubt if anybody is fooled about Maina being declared “wanted”. This is a man who has not only been around in the country for a while before pushing his luck but was indeed one of the candidates touted two years ago to succeed Alhaji Zanna Umar Mustapha, when the then Borno State Deputy Governor died in office. Had Governor Kashim Shettima not shunned the pressure, Maina might have, since August, 2015 been the Deputy Governor of Borno State. Readers can check the story in this link:

Apparently annoyed by the ongoing deceit, the Maina family yesterday in Kaduna addressed the media. Aliyu Maina, who spoke for his kinsman, said: “Abdulrasheed was in fact invited by this administration and he was promised security to come and clean up the mess and generate more revenue to the government by blocking leakages. He has been working with the DSS for quite some time and he was given necessary security. So, one wonders why all the agencies and various individuals responsible for his return are now denying”.

Indeed, it is an open secret in Abuja that Maina is a prominent member of the APC and given what Senator Shehu Sani has already told Nigerians about the disposition of this administration when dealing with friends and associates, it is only fitting that, just like the all-powerful ‘grass-cutter’, Maina be given nothing but a ‘deodorant treatment’.

That, after all, is the spirit of Change!


Pastor Azodoh @ 60

To the extent that the Bible makes it clear that many are called but only few are chosen, it stands to reason that a good number of those who answer to the title of Pastor in our country may just be on their own. But even at that, there are indeed many good Pastors around; though they are not necessarily the ones who dominate the media headlines.

Every pastor that is true to their calling, according to Scott Slayton, “walks through dark nights of the soul. The pain of betrayal, the sting of failure, and despair over people walking away from the faith is often more than the pastor is able to bear”. Yet, despite the sacrifices they make, I have also, at different times, seen the frustrations, discouragements and unfair attacks that some of these people suffer, even in the midst of their own personal challenges. I have been blessed by the ministry of such rare men of God.

My Pastor, Evaristus Azodoh who is 60 today retired from the military as a colonel before establishing his own hospital as one of Nigeria’s foremost consultant urologists. Even as a business owner with all the challenges that go with that in our country, Azodoh runs full-time Pastoral ministry dedicated to the service of God and his congregation. Whether in times of sorrow or that of joy, he is always there, regardless of the social status of the members concerned. He is also the first person to arrive Church and the last to leave, always holding himself accountable for the failings of members with the refrain: there are no bad soldiers, there are only bad officers.

While it amazes how Pastor Azodoh has been able to invest so much time, energy and personal resources in so many of us, it is also evident that the God he is serving has been rewarding his faithfulness. With three wonderful daughters (two medical doctors and a lawyer) and a son who is now one of the Lagos big boys providing knowledge-based solutions to practical problems in the growing tech-ecosystem in Nigeria, Pastor Azodoh has a lot to thank God for. And this evening in Church, we will join him and his family in that thanksgiving with a 90-minute session of praise and dance.

Happy birthday Pastor Azodoh!

  • The Journalist Blog

    It is a terrible thing to demand for sex before giving a woman the opportunity to do even those things she can do well! The likes of Weinstein can be found everywhere especially in Nigeria. The bad thing is that many go unpunished as many of the women assaulted go through it without ever speaking out!

  • Mystic mallam

    Forget the sexual predatory story for now, why? Because most Nigerian “Big Men” I know, trust me I know many, are sexual predators. How can we even begin to address the subject in a country that eschews outrage at a 70 year old man claiming to have legally married a 12 year pubiscent girl-child? What is beginning to amaze is how Segun Adeniyi is becoming a foremost Wailing Wailer. I’ll re-read this his take on the Maina saga to be sure I still understand what I read. Cheers Segun, keep it up, or is there a new game you’re playing?

    • Thompson Iyeye

      You hit a good point here. Though sexual harassment is unacceptable, it pales compared to the cradle snatching child marriages officially accepted in this country. That our lawmakers have failed to legislate against it, is a much bigger shame.

      • Mystic mallam

        Thanks my friend. But the law makers are the worst predators. I know quite a number with girl-child wives. It is we, the people, who must coalesce to demand and insist on change.

  • Prospekt arty

    The problem in Nigeria and in many third world countries is the effect of endemic poverty on sexual relations between the sexes. Poverty will make men in power sexually harass women who need their favour. At university it was common for many female students to sleep with lecturers for better grades. It was the done thing. In many other cases girls were harassed into sleeping with their lecturers with a threat of failure hanging over them. Sexual harassment permeates Southern Nigerian society to the core but the point is women play the game willingly. This is where bottom power comes to play. The north might be no different since women there are abducted from childhood into forced marriages to grown up men. A 30-50 year old man marrying a girl of between 8-15 is clearly a pedophile and child rapist but this is normalised in northern Nigerian culture and everyone turns a blind eye in the name of religion.

    • Bawa Garba

      What statistics do you have to back up your claim about girl child abduction in the north?

      • Don Franco

        Dear Bawa Garba,

        Prospekt Arty needs no evidence for a way of life that’s self-evident; are you not a notherner?
        Worse, girl-children are forced to marry their rapists and abductors in the core north. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. What stats do you have yourself that girl children are not abducted in the North?.

        • Bawa Garba

          You are the one making a claim so the burden of proof is on you.

          • Don Franco

            Unfortunately, any quantum of “education” will go amiss with you; so you don’t know what the word “self-evident” means?

          • Bawa Garba

            Aha! Indeed, because my internet moniker is Bawa Garba I must be a northerner and because I am a northerner, I must be uneducated, right? Do have a good evening sir.

          • Don Franco

            I definitely will have a good evening, not having to deal with obtuseness and the lowest standard of unreasonableness.

      • Prospekt arty

        There’s enough empirical evidence and records to show that child marriage with all its complications has always been widespread in the north as a traditional practice, maybe this is being curtailed gradually through education but there’s no point people going into denial about it nor the fact that Nigerian ‘big’ men with some power and influence are sexual predators who often proposition and sexually harass women who come to them for help. I’ve seen this happen in the work place and it goes unchallenged as People are scared of losing their jobs. People like to pretend that Nigerian society is pious and holy but what lies beneath is rotten to the core just like the endemic corruption that plagues the country.

  • Iskacountryman

    afghanistan here we come…

  • Moses Obeta

    The last adminstration democratised corruption, the present administration has privatised it. I think that should be the quote of the month.

  • Moses Obeta

    Sexual exploitation in our country is cultural. Even the women, unfortunately, see themselves as being at the receiving end of men they are subordinates. It will take a strong political will and leadership sagacity for this ugly part of our life to be exorcised. The women should come out to shame men that demand for sexual gratification before giving them what they are due or to favour them. We know of Weinstein because the victims spoke out. I have not seen that courage here.

  • E.Udah

    “while the former administration ‘democratised’ corruption, the current one has decided to ‘privatise’ it.” There’s no better word to describe what’s happening under buhari’s nose.
    Reasons why Nigerians were not hungry during Jonathan’s “democratised corruption” was because what was stolen circulated down stream. But under this administration, those stealing are stealing for themselves and cronies only. Imagine what’s happening in Kogi and Imo state.

  • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

    When sexual gratification crosses the line into persistent sexual abuse as practised by Weinstein its route cause are to be found in a form of mental illness.

    In Nigeria, I simply do not know one woman – not one, that has not been at the very least sexually harassed. It is so prevalent and so perversive that our women folk have been forced to ‘live’ with it or more aptly manage its consequences. And the lower down the social ladder you find yourself as a woman, the more dangerous Nigeria is for you. Not so surprising, when I look around, and find too many men who are mentally ill – they are in government, in our legislator, in our schools and universities, in our police and law enforcement and in our religious houses too.

    This objectification of women is the reason why we like many undeveloped and unexposed societies do not give women their rightful place in leadership – political, commercial and spiritual. And why we as a country are losing out because of it. The unique insight that women bring to solving some of societies issues are not available to us because we think they matter differently – like our President said only in the kitchen and the bedroom.

    Heck; one popular pastor whose wife left him because of his abusive behaviour had the effrontery to use the bible and God’s word to lambast those who listened to his sermon that women were the problem in any broken home because they were refusing to play their position as ‘slaves’. And as I watched the audience, I noticed that he received the most applause and approval from the women folk in the congregation. The stockholm syndrome i suppose.

    Like a lot of our problems, this one too seems insurmountable. But as Segun said, perhaps the start of making things better for our sisters, mothers and daughters is talking about it.

    • BankyMons

      I do not agree that Nigerian women are exploited to the tune of comparing us with what is obtained in Hollywood. You will need to provide verifiable evidence to support your claims. Traditionally, our women were not oppressed before the white man came to colonise us at least in the eastern part of Nigeria where I come from. The history of women and how they were treated in Igboland before colonisation and even now are there for everyone to see and it’s nothing like the picture you are trying to paint here. It is important to recognise that the western woman has her history(often of oppression) and her history is not the African woman’s history. Having said that, sometimes exploitation happens as a result of desparation from parties involved e.g. I cannot understand how a 21st century American woman will be ‘abused’ for 7 years without her telling anybody – not even the police? Something tells me that perhaps part of the reason is because somebody wants to keep their source of affluence and income intact. So in that case both parties have to share in the blame of what happened. Just to be clear, I am not trying to justify abuse in any form or shape but to claim that the abused is always powerless is simply untrue.

      “The unique insight that women bring to solving some of societies issues
      are not available to us because we think they matter differently – like
      our President said only in the kitchen and the bedroom”,,,,,your President I’m sure was speaking for himself and nobody else as he was actually referring to his own wife and not Nigerian women in general. Let us be clear about that.

      “And the lower down the social ladder you find yourself as a woman, the
      more dangerous Nigeria is for you. Not so surprising, when I look
      around, and find too many men who are mentally ill – they are in
      government, in our legislator, in our schools and universities, in our
      police and law enforcement and in our religious houses too”,,,,,,,,,,,,I do not see how these two statements match up. There are instances in Nigeria where women in positions of authority have been far more corrupt than their men folk. Incompentence and lack of character are not exclusive characteristics of any gender. And I say this as someone who have ‘worked’ with one of the most corrupt Accountant General of a state in Nigeria and guess what? She is a woman! Inappropriate use of power and position has nothing to do with the person’s gender – it has everything to do with their character and who they truly are.

      • Don Franco

        Dear BankyMons,

        MKSP is right! Why are you purposefully confusing issues; if not in our Igbo culture, where else are women forced to drink the bathwater of their deceased husbands’ corpses to prove that they have no hand in his untimely death? In what other culture do inlaws have the first rights over a deceased husband’s assets before his bereaved wife and minor aged children? Surely you are aware that women are still forced in our rural areas to marry their deceased husband’s brothers as a matter of course. Do you know the intensity of back-breaking work that women are forced to undertake as a matter of routine across Nigeria; including in our very homes where the girl-child has to cook and clean while her brother is watching Arsenal?.
        I have been at political meetings where a female contestant was asked if and how she plans to “break” kola nut or “pour” libation? She’s proscribed from these privileges in Igbo custom, can you imagine? In any event, I was fined for suggesting that she may be exempted or allowed to break kola, in a meeting populated with males. An egregious example of the Glass Ceiling, at the basic level.

        Misogyny is an unfortunate fact of life; and I’m more than convinced that it was mainly responsible for Hillary”s loss of the US presidency to Donald Trump. I believe that Scandinavia is the best and strongest part of Europe for the past hundred years; due to the fact it’s womenfolk are the most liberated upon the face of the earth.

        I hardly know of any center-right progressive father who’s not worried about the fate and lot of their daughters in our Zoo of a country. A decent education for the girl-child is the best protection and solution; doubt that we’ll see a female president in our lifetime.

        Consider the special venom with which Diezani is hated; on account of the fact she dared to match Rilwan Lukman, Dan Etete, and now Baru, in corrupt conduct, even though she’s not a male. … such misogynistic irony!.

        All in all, a country’s progress can be caliberated by how it treats it woman folks. …

        • onyema22ohaka

          My dear DF
          You hit the nail on the head a lot harder especially as it affects Igboland and we have have our work cut out for us there.Also included is the issue of inheritance in Igboland where the girl child is completely disinherited by the her male siblings.Time has come for this generation to start righting this and other wrongs in igboland.

          • Don Franco

            Dear Onyema22ohaka,

            A good place to start is for the churches to preach the importance of living a will that addresses how assets are to be shared among survivors and for the probate structures in the judicial system to be strengthened beyond what they currently are.

            Thereafter, the Ohaneze and Aka Ikenga has to address the issue of Osu caste system that has divided us more than any other issue in Igbo civilization. We need to dismantle that old, prosaic and wicked system, so that we can entrench more cohesion among our people. I’m busy with a document on how that can be achieved.

            We have our challenges, but the critical mass for greatness is abundant in our DNA.

    • William Norris

      I have no time for a long argument. I’ll provide a pithy summary that I hope will lead to some more considered reasoning on your part:

      It’s a very trite thing to say, but in these times you can’t get by with assumptions. So I’ll state it right now – MEN and WOMEN are very DIFFERENT.

      1. In ANY collective with distinct groups, all the groups cannot be equal to one another. Which is to say, between MALE & FEMALE, one must be dominant over the other. A dominant race, sex or animal accrues unearned advantages.

      2. Among Black Americans, the FEMALE is the dominant sex. Do find time and peruse the family formation and living standards statistics for US Blacks.

      3. Women are human too. So it’s no surprise that where they are given power, they also abuse it

      All to say, humans will ALWAYS be humans. Nature will ALWAYS take its course, no matter how strenuously the well meaning among us try to alter its delicate balance.

      And please….nothing I’ve written is in any way supportive of rape or sexual harrassment or anything else that impinges on the rights of women.

      In any case, Nigeria is the most religious nation on earth according to reputable surveys, so I don’t understand why this is even a problem. Leave it to God, He knows best.


      • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

        I beg to strongly disagree.
        Surely in your considered reasoning, you will appreciate that dominance of one over another is innately wrong. Contrary to your presumptions this state is not nature at work – nature is perfect and does not harbour dysfunctionalities of which domination is one.
        What you describe may be what is.
        What you conveniently forget to explore is what could be and any need to improve or make things better.
        Yes; men and women are different.
        But both bring unique perspectives to the equation of humanity.
        One cannot function to the fullest of its possibilities without the other.
        Without one, there is not the other.
        Yin and Yang if you will.
        The damage of one will affect the other.
        I am a man and can only see things from my own eyes.
        I am possibly selfish about my needs
        So it is because of this pursuit of seeking the best for myself and being the father of daughters that has allowed me to see that this is best achieved when i am open to the women and girls all around me flourishing without hinderance and without the debilitation that is the result of sexual abuse.

        • William Norris

          Contrary to your presumptions this state is not nature at work – nature is perfect and does not harbour dysfunctionalities of which domination is one.
          Really? Domination is a dysfunction in nature?

          But most women WANT to be dominated…it’s in their nature….just as men tend to be naturally domineering.

          Anyhow, Nigerians should look carefully at all the developed or modern nations that pursue equal rights for women. There’s some cause for caution. Ask the female US Secretary of Education. She knows.

  • Fowad

    To some extent Americans look away from Hollywood. They accept that body no be wood. Weinstein is the sacrificial lamb because he “crossed the boundaries”
    In Nigeria hypocrisy is the game. No limits to sex. No limits to looting. No limits to megachurches making millions off the faithful

  • ayo

    I give up on Buhari and this administration.

    • Bawa Garba

      Bros, d tin tire me oh…

  • Olufemi Bello

    Oga Segun, I’m not as widely read like you. This is why I’m asking this question so that you can educate me and other Nigerians. What are the BLOCKS/MATERIALS through which CAPITALISM is built apart from the known “factors of production” ? Sir, you are likely to find slavery, colonialism , imperialism, corruption, nepotism and many “bad bad things” as late Fela would say it. It is when it has built itself and become stable that some “new comers ” will start to see what is wrong with the system but which were the bed rocks of its progress and greatness . Hollywood story cannot be different . This is why the Yorubas say ” isale oro olegbin.” Roughly interpreted , the secret of riches is filthy . Pls educate me if I’m wrong. Mioo sako.

  • chyke

    My theory is that the APC brought back Maina to run for governor in 2019

  • KWOY

    “Those who freely threatened to unleash unprecedented bloodshed on others they termed ‘dog and baboon’ are unable to accept even the mildest criticism and want to give the ‘dog’ the bad name of ‘hate speech’.”

    By Richard Irikefe, “RIGHT OF REPLY: Atiku Abubakar and the Death of Identity Politics”, Tisday Backpage, October 7, 2017

  • moribund9ja

    On Maina, a big shame to Buhari and his govt.

    • Iskacountryman

      and their enablers…

  • moribund9ja

    Does Nigeria have extant laws that deal with sexual harassment and exploitation of women?

    If there are such laws, women groups should bring them to the awarness of Nigerian women through various platforms because Nigeria is still a basically uninformed society.

    Special units in both the Federal and State ministries of Women Affairs and even in local govt levels should be created to assist the victims in getting justice through provision of legal assistance.

  • Darcy

    I have a question, can issues regarding exploitation of power ever be solved or is just one of those risks that come with being Human?

    So far I know of two options:

    1. You shift power to the potential victim, in which case we have the exploitation of the Obama years, when countless stories emerged of vengeful women ruining the lives of men with false accusations. Not to mention undermining a vital pillar of society, “innocent until proven guilty by a court of law”. Which you’ll notice has undermined anyway you slice it, Sec. Clinton, Weinstein and even President Trump.

    2. The “Pence” option. Favoured by most if not all conservatives, which basically amounts to pseudo-segregation of the sexes. Structuring society in such a way where unmarried people of opposite sex being along is a taboo. This might be my bias showing, but hasn’t that been the basic structure of society since we ceased being foragers? The flipside is that it comes with a lot of societal restrictions for the sexes.

    Ultimately, the strong exploit the weak. I’m sure that nobody here will say they’ve lived a charmed life where it hasn’t affected them. We can fix that, but it would require sacrifice. Are we willing?

    Re Maina: I wonder what people like him do to get on the inside corridors of power, is it worth it? Perhaps our reckless exploitation by our politicians can be explained by the things they go through to make the mark.

  • lastp

    i am not sure about how Nigerians think. Are we solving our problems or re we chasing money at all cost?

    • remm ieet

      Nigerians think that politics has no answer for their needs. The politicians themselves do not disappoint. They don’t want us to think they are the solution. It is very difficult to know what a desperate man thinks in this kind of circumstance.