• ‘We want sniper controlled, removed from our foodstuff ’s market’
• We can’t ban Sniper, says NAFDAC
• Teen suicides becoming an epidemic, yet 100% preventable –Psychiatrists
Number of young people, who commit suicide in Nigeria, using Sniper, a brand of insecticide and pesticides, has been on the increase. It is gradually becoming an epidemic in the country, and this has necessitated calls from some Nigerians for the ban of the product and in order to get it out of the reach of young people with suicidal propensities. CHIJIOKE IREMEKA reports
Sniper has, once again, come under hammer for being the most available substance and best choice for young Nigerians, who seek to end their lives for one trivial reason or the other. Today, Sniper has been blamed for instigating suicide tendencies among the youths across the country and helping them to achieve their lamentable suicide journey to the great beyond by its availability.
Thus, the propensities with which young Nigerians are taking their own lives at the slightest and senseless provocation are quite alarming and can soon be described as an epidemic, if nothing is done urgently to disabuse the minds of these cowards, who prefer to die rather than to face their challenges headlong.
Though suicide is a strange culture in this part of the world, yet there is no month that goes by without the news of a young person taking, or attempting to take his life filtering the air space for flimsy and unthinkable reasons.
Such defeatist mentality is gradually plaguing the country and stealing the lives of its potential presidents, governors, ministers, professors, managers, engineers, lawyers, judges, nurses and doctors among other professionals, who are looked upon as leaders and nation builders of tomorrow. The practice is fast eroding the culture of resilience, patience and tenacity being instilled in them as young people.
It has got to the point that young people trade their lives for a little failure or life test yet they are supposed to be emotionally strong and resolute in confronting their challenges.
Instead of taking the bull by the horns, they now see suicide as a way of dealing with life challenges and cow themselves and bow to their challenges rather than confronting it headlong. The scripture says “If you are weak in a crisis, you are weak indeed; and if you are weary when times are troubled, your strength is limited (Proverbs 24:10),” should be written in the tablets of their hearts.
Furthermore, the story of Abraham Lincoln of America who never gave up in the times of trials should be their companion in the time of distress even as psychiatry attention should be considered too.
Recently, social media went ballistic with the story of a 17-year-old boy, Amos Ibrahim, who took his own life in Jos, the capital of Plateau State, by consuming Sniper.
It was reported that the young man took the poison after failing the 2019 University and Tertiary Matriculations Examinations (UTME), Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB). Many who followed his story were hard on him for being a coward. Others called him all manner of names, which connote weakling and spoit child. They lashed him for not being able to take his chance and study hard to pass the examination.
“African tradition does not treat suicide case softly. Real African sees no reason for taking one’s life and that is why the remains of those who committed suicide were humiliated and thrown into the evil forest to serve as food for the wild animals,” Chief Nwawolo Ikenga said in an interview.
According to the traditional chief, they are not buried or mourned, saying that these are done to deter anybody with such suicidal tendency to drop it having seen how both the family of the person and the corpse were humiliated and stigmatised in this taboo committed against the land.
“Suicide is a strong sign of weakling and men who are men only in their scrotum. It’s considered abomination because they do not do it with their right senses. It’s believed to be bad omen and relationship with the family where somebody committed suicide is a voided like bullet,” he added. Also, a student at Nsukka, Enugu State, Chukwuemeka Akachi, was reported to have consumed Sniper after writing a book on how to die. Temitope Saka, a 17-year-old girl, died after drinking the insecticide in the Igando area of Lagos State.
It was reported that when Saka became pregnant, her grandmother insisted she packed out of the house. It was reported that the victim drank the poison and started foaming at her boyfriend’s house. She was rushed to the Igando General Hospital where she died. Earlier, a 19-year-old girl, Uche Obiora, allegedly took Sniper at her boyfriend’s house, which is a street away from Saka’s grandmother’s house. Sequel to this, many Nigerians are currently calling on NAFDAC to ban sniper in the country to forestall the lives of young Nigerians and adults being lost to this faceless disease, even as many others feel it’s needless banning such product because people abuse the use.
A 25-year-old Oluwadurotimi Dawodu, who felt that the menace of suicidal tendencies among youth in Nigeria, using Sniper is unwarranted called on the Federal Government to place a ban on the insecticide. He also implored other young Nigerians and parents to push on the anticipated ban until those in authority take necessary actions on this matter, saying that no more lives should be lost to Sniper again.
For Isaac Fadewole, the product should be removed from circulation just as the government did to high codeine containing syrup. He said: “I actually support the product Sniper should be removed from circulation, just like it was done for codeine containing syrup. The epidemic of its abuse is of public health importance.” “Sniper has done more damage than good in our environment. We know it is an agricultural product but it has been the only dangerous poison found in every household,” said Mrs. Bola Adesokoye.
The mother of four said almost all households in Lagos make use of Sniper to control cockroaches and mosquitoes in their homes. “It’s a strong poison and having such in a place there are children is a great risk.
This should be totally made an agricultural affair and not sold in our foodstuff market or where children can easily have access to,” she added. On the other side, Ilemona Jane said Sniper is not the problem, arguing that the situations in the country leave people thinking that death is the only solution to the problems they are facing. “People can literally jump into rivers/ off bridges, drive their cars into walls, stab themselves to death. Do we ban rivers, bridges, cars and knives too? I don’t think banning sniper is the solution but re-orientation it,” she said.
Leo Ralph is not comfortable with the rate suicide news are flying all over the places, using sniper but he doesn’t still think that banning the product is a good idea. He said: “I have Sniper in my house. My kid brothers stay in the same house too. With the recent stories of suicide flying around, I am no longer comfortable with it. But I don’t think banning this product is a solution to the problem. The main issue here is depression.”
Omojuwa Joe, who said no to ban of sniper, asked what the national suicide line is? “Where do people go if they need help? What’s the government’s response to the news? How do you ensure the news and stories do not create a herd effect in the country. To me, these are critical matters and not the ban of Sniper.” More importantly, while the argument is raging on, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) wade in to douse the heated argument, which has been going up and down for some time now.
The agency said despite growing conversion over the use of Sniper for suicides, it does not have the powers to ban such a product from the market. NAFDAC regretted the fact that young people go for the product as the only available substance that can cause death of anybody who consumed it due to its efficacy. The Director of Special Duties, NAFDAC, Dr. Jimoh Abubakar said despite its abuse NAFDAC lacks the power to ban the product, saying that a product will not be banned because people abuse the purpose for which it was produced.
He said: “The case of Sniper is like when people use acid to attack fellow individuals even when the purpose of acid is not to attack people and people will call for the ban of Acid. Then what happens to the real reason for which it was created at the first instance? “Some years ago, NAFDAC was also called to the rescue when people started attacking others with acid. Asking us to regulate when people have criminal tendency or intention is not within the remit of NAFDAC’s regulatory activities. “Sniper is an insecticide, it is not meant for people to drink or kill themselves. From NAFDAC’s perspective, we are regulating it and ensuring control. The purpose of control is also to ensure that during the labelling of sniper and other products registered by NAFDAC.
“There are certain warnings to be put there, especially for pesticides and chemicals. Warnings are usually written boldly on the label to ensure that people don’t misuse it out of ignorance.” He noted that NAFDAC cannot ban a registered product because people abuse its uses. Sunday Telegraph learnt that one out of every five Nigerians have mental illness, but the sad part of it is that most Nigerians think people who suffer from mental health challenges are those on the streets. It was learnt that the people on the streets represent just one to two per cent of mental health cases in the country.
The 98 per cent of mental illnesses come from literally normal persons and not those on the street. As it were right now, one out of every five Nigerians is currently depressed and depression is so high that it cuts across all gender, socio-economic status etc.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), while the link between suicide and mental disorders – depression and alcohol use disorders – is well established in high-income countries, many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis with a breakdown in the ability to deal with life stresses, such as financial problems, relationship break-up or chronic pain and illness among others. It is estimated that around 20 per cent of global suicides are due to pesticide selfpoisoning, most of which occur in rural agricultural areas in low- and middle-income countries. Other common methods of suicide are hanging and firearms.
A consultant psychiatrist, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Idi Araba and Coordinator Suicide Research and Prevention Initiative (SURPIN), Dr. Raphael Ogbolu, said there are peculiarities of those within ages 13-35. The first thing to consider, Ogbolu said, is the period they live in, which he described as the Millennials and Generation Z. He said the Millennials (Generation Y) are considered to be those born 1980 – 1994 and tend to be raised by single parents, and they are technologically wise.
According to the psychiatrist, Generation Z (post-Millennials, iGeneration, Gen Tech, Digital Native) are those born between 1995 and 2010/2014. They are less traditional and are more likely to be single parents, and are more entrepreneurial, more into phones than Television.
He said what these two generations have in common is arguably the advent of social media and the Millennials are likely to reach adulthood around year 2000 at about the time GSM came into Nigeria, this meant that their popular mode of communication was less likely to be face-to-face, and as such both generations more often lived in a virtual world where social media gained a lot of prominence. Ogbolu said they are therefore more likely to have less social and interpersonal skills compared to the older generations and the problem with this is that a lot of ‘make believe’ and fake personalities come into play.
“For that reason, we have children who will become sad because they cannot show off pictures of their family on vacation abroad when they see their mates showing off such pictures, even if they are fake. This in turn can affect self-worth and lead them to question.
“This is made worse by a technological world where someone can create a photoshopped image of a ‘beautiful’ person. All this does is to diminish the self-esteem of a child who already lacks self-belief and confidence,” he added. The Global Health Observatory puts the global age-standardised suicide rate at 11.4 per 100,000 people, and suicide is the second leading cause of death among those aged 15-29 years. Sunday Telegraph learnt the rate in Nigeria is put at 9.5 per100, 000 people.
It has been strongly linked to depression, and also drug abuse, directly or in association with depression. In Nigeria, the SURPIN has found that about one-fifth of suicide cases seen at its affiliated institution are those aged 13-19 years, and that over 50 per cent of the crisis calls received through its hotlines are from those aged 13- 29 years; 27.8 per cent were students.
Suicide is one of the priority conditions in the WHO Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) launched in 2008, which provides evidence-based technical guidance to scale up service provision and care in countries for mental, neurological and substance use disorders. In the WHO Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2020, WHO Member States have committed themselves to working towards the global target of reducing the suicide rate in countries by 10 per cent by 2020.
The psychiatrist said relying on statistics from WHO Global Health Observatory Data, suicide in Nigeria is at an estimated rate of 9.8 per 100,000 higher than regional average stressing that action is needed especially considering that the rate is an underestimation as many cases go unreported and undocumented.
According to a psychotherapist, Maymunah Kadiri, anyone can be depressed at any point in time. She said: “As a young person, you can have depression. Some of us may be depressed without being aware because it is only doctors that can diagnose if one has chronic depression or not.”
Suicide is preventable She noted that suicide is 100 per cent preventable because the red flags are there; the warning signs are there. She explains: “If a friend tells you that if he or she dies, nobody should miss him or her that is a red flag.
“If a friend gives you a gift that you know she cherishes a lot; that is a red flag or a warning sign. A friend who could do anything just to look good and then all of a sudden, nothing matters anymore, that is a warning sign.
“A friend who is no longer picking your calls, always wanting to be alone and crying, you need to watch such a friend. The truth is, no one wants to die, the people that are committing suicide just want to run away from their pains, the only thing that comes to their minds at that fragile stage is suicide and the most rampant form of suicides is drinking insecticide, and suicide by hanging. The expert advised those going through depression to get a healthy system, imploring the youths to aspire to be great as all humans have a drop of greatness in them. “If your friends are not helping you, you would need new friends that can support you.
Also, you need to optimise your strengths and minimise your weaknesses,” she added. The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, His Eminence Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins, said he is deeply worried over the growing teen suicide in the recent times in the country.
Police on vigilance against illegal blood donors, thieves in Lagos hospitals
Issue of overcrowding medical facilities in Nigeria can be one of the reasons for poor health care delivery in the country, which consequently upon leads to avoidable deaths. JOSEPH ENYIM writes that patients will receive better services if the country’s medical facilities are decongested
rs. Aighbedion Janet had gone to the Mother and Child Hospital, Festac Town, in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State, where she registered for antenatal to be delivered of a baby which has been sought for many years, but was turned back without examination on the grounds that her pregnancy was not due.
Janet, who was convinced about her feeling insisted that she was done, saying that her baby was getting close, yet they turned her back still working on the overwhelming population that they had at hand, which resulted in no bed space.
She left graudingly with her husband, who encouraged her to heed the medics advice. Shortly after they got home, the situation continued unabated and the labour pain became stronger and at home, she was left at the mercy of an auxiliary nurse.
This was a woman who was told that her delivering wasn’t in sight. Luckily for her, her husband ran to their pastor’s wife who is a medical doctor and a surgeon. He informed her of the situation at home, and both the pastor and doctor ran there with her husband.
While the doctor was trying to set up her apparatus for child’s delivering seeing that the water had broken, the pastor said that his grandson cannot be delivered at home after many years of praying and fasting for the pregnancy, but the doctor insisted that there was no time else the baby will die.
At this point the pastor gave in and delivering started. Both the doctor and the axillary nurse delivered her of her baby while her husband became a mid-father who combined with an errand nurse.
Janet who registered at the hospital now was delivered in her sitting room. All thanks to God who kept the doctor and other people that ensured the success of the delivery at home after the hospital had sent her away.
This boils down to the issue of overcrowding hospitals in the country, especially that of the federal and state-owned facilities in Lagos State and the need for more facilities to decongest already congested ones.
If not for the nurse and the doctor, may be, Janet and her unborn baby would add to the incident of mother and child mortality in the country even when the whole world is saying that a woman should no longer die while giving birth.
Thus, despite positive and great changes in the country’s health sector, especially the two major teaching hospitals in Lagos State, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, and Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja there are yet, more rooms for improvement.
These and few other observations were made by Sunday Telegraph during it of these facilities in the state to determine how they are fired.
At LUTH, which is located at Idiaraba, Mushin, this full-fledged medical school, a tertiary hospital, has seen millions of patients in its 57 years of existence, established in July 1962.
Sunday Telegraph’s visits to the hospital to determine also how the inpatients in the said facility are being taken care of, revealed that the general change for which we are yearning for is really not the key to the change we are seeking rather our individual change is the key to the general changes we are looking forward to.
No wonder our president will say “change begins with me”. Moving around the hospital, our trainee reporter met a group of people, who he suspected had one patient or the other in the hospital.
Though he couldn’t understand the Yoruba language with which they were discussing but certainly he could sense that the discussion was not unconnected to man inhumanity to man and with small English they interject while speaking attracted him.
Upon questioning, one of the discussants, revealed to him, something he thought would never happen in such a place. It was a case of ill treatment against relatives of sick in-patients. They alleged that some nurses and few other staff treat their patients with scorn.
The man, who pleaded anonymous alleged that some of them refused patients’ relatives entrance to the ward to take care of their sick relative except they are willing to path with some money.
A victim of such ill-treatment, who also wouldn’t want to put her name in the print for the fear that it might worsen her mother’s situation who consequently gave her name as Bunmi, alleged that she was denied access to the ward to take care of her mother.
She said her mother cannot stand on her own without the help of an assistant to ease herself yet they stopped her from entering, saying that they were allegedly looking for money from her, which she didn’t have.
Meanwhile, our reporter had no idea that trending in the hospital was that of people from outside, most especially from Mushin side of the hospital gate, are into illegal sale of blood selling.
There is a particular culprit, Baba Taju, who according to the police, had lived from that business over the years, selling blood.
Sunday Telegraph learnt that he organises people to donate blood for patients who need it at a fee. Owing to this, one person donates more than what it supposed to thereby leading to poor quality of blood.
Medically, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), blood donation should be done only twice a year and therefore, it’s expected that one donates blood free without any financial inducement.
This has been flagrantly violated by these people and that name Baba Taju still reverberates at LUTH for the past 20 years.
If police had apprehended him before and he escaped, one can’t say for sure but he’s still there doing that business till tomorrow.
These people, according to the police post, operating within the administrative block of this great health facility, take advantage of people’s predicament to enrich themselves and do harm to their bodies.
It was also learnt that some touts before now, freely enter the hospital to steal unsuspecting people’s valuables. According to the police, a doctor’s bag was stolen that money, under their watch.
These were the things our Trainee reporter discovered when he was mistaken to be one of the agents for blood donation and other crimes in the hospital. He was arrested and detained for hours before Sunday Telegraph’s features’ head, visited the police post to secure his release.
He was equally beaten by the police, especially the Chief Security Officer (CSO), LUTH police post, who asked him to undress even as he was shivering due to the cold from the air conditioners in the office.
He was only given his clothes, shoes, writch watch and bag when the police heard that a senior correspondent was coming to secure his release, though he didn’t reveal his real identity as a trainee reporter to him.
He was, after much interrogation from the police and beating, asked to confess his mission to the facility and was forced to write a statement.
In spite of these, the trainee who was arrested and taken custody of around 12:31pm, secured his freedom about 4pm. He was wondering what the police are doing since they know those who perpetuate these crimes.
Responding to the security situation at the hospital, the CSO said they are vigilant because of people who come in to steal people’s valuables and to ensure that those who move in freely to donate blood are stopped.
“Just this morning, a doctor’s bag was stolen in the hospital. So there are people who stay here without any business and they are looking for a way to commit one crime or the other.
“Again, at the Mushin gate of the hospital, there is a man called Baba Taju. he has been there with his boys who used to organise people to donate blood for money.
“So, a number of things are happening in the country and that was why we arrested this young man when we were busy asking for male and female wards.
“We do not entertain any of such here. LUTH is a peaceful place to be and you can see that yourself.”
Also, at the LASUTH, the state-owned teaching hospital, Ikeja, strategically located in – the state’s capital, apart from the beggars who lined themselves within the hospital radius begging for alms, the facility has some commendation even when there is a need for more improvement.
The facility, which shares structures with the College of Medicine, Lagos State University, was established in 1955 from a small cottage health Centre by the Old western region. It was converted to a teaching hospital in July 2001.
The need to know how patients are being catered for in the state government owned hospital referred to as general hospital, a cursory look at the LASUTH showed that some nurses, doctors and other staff, are friendly with their patients by responding to them in terms of treatment administration.
In an interaction with one of the patients in the emergency block, male ward, who identified himself as Mr. Sarafudeen Oyewusi, who also had spent one week in the hospital, he said doctors are actually carrying out their duties.
He was grateful how doctors and nurses carry out their responsibility in ensuring that their treatment is being administered at the right time.
The patient thanked God, saying his coming to the hospital, though sick, has actually taught him something which has erased his early impression that ‘we no longer have good people in Nigeria,’ most especially in hospital but what he had seen so far seemed to have proved him wrong.
He said: “I should always pray for the hospital staff from today henceforth.”
Outside the male ward, was a patient, Feyintola Ogundipe (Not real name), whose two legs were swollen, lying on the patient couch, speaking with her relative, who was discovered to be the one looking after her.
She was rushed to the hospital some few minutes earlier for an undisclosed illness before our reporter met them.
In a bid to know whether she had been attended to, her relatives said doctors have actually seen them and promised to come back shortly to administer treatment on her after which she will be taken to the ward.
Sunday Telegraph learnt that depending on the size of the ward of the hospital, one can find four patients and some are more than that.
Our reporter went around the hospital, looking at the people’s mood which may suggest dissatisfaction with their services, but didn’t see anybody to speak to on this note.
Getting these pieces of information was quite challenging. At first, the reporter was denied access to the wards by a security.
Haven been told that such visitation was not allowed by a female security, the reporter stayed back for a while only to see another security who asked him what he had come to do in the hospital and immediately asked him to leave even as he accompanied him to the door where he dashed out to other side of the emergency unit.
At Mother and Child Hospital, Festac Town, Lagos a few cases of ward over crowding were observed, especially for maternity ward.
It was that the facility takes care of overwhelming patients from Amuwo-Odofin area, Apapa area, Ojo area and Satellite area as this is the only Mother and Child hospital around these areas.
National Ordinance Day: Promoting the symbols that unite us
o doubt Nigeria is going through one of the most trying moments in its history.
The nation is experiencing unprecedented security challenges, unemployment, infrastructure decay, among others. The country which was once the destination of choice has become, especially in the last few years, a despised desert of dejection, of ethnic agitations and separatist movements.
At no time in the history of Nigeria has the divisive issues been more highlighted. Nigeria appears to be sitting precariously on the edge.
Nigeria can ill afford to march blindly, stubbornly to the precipice. It is therefore time to emphasize and promote the national symbols that unites the nation more.
No matter how diverse we are as a nation we are still bonded by the national flag, pledge, coat of arms, currency, passport and the constitution. These are the symbols whose significance to national unity cannot be overlooked. They hold the seemingly tenuous unity in place in spite of the pressure to snap it. Obviously, it is the spirit of patriotism and nationalism that have moved Nigerians to condemn the xenophobic attacks on their compatriots in South Africa their ethnic background notwithstanding.
It is against this backdrop that the National Orientation Agency, (NOA), undertook to enlighten Nigerians on the significance of these symbols on the National Ordinance Day last week.
The event was held at the popular Ibeku High School in the Abia State capital, Umuahia.
The choice of the school is instructive; it aimed at educating especially the young Nigerians to have respect for the national symbols.
The address of the State Director of NOA, Lady Ngozi Okechukwu, was concise. She charged the students to respect national symbols even as she expressed worry over the unpatriotic disposition of Nigerians who abuse the symbols. According to her: “Understanding national symbols allows citizens inculcate the value and respect for the symbols to become patriotic citizens.”
She added that the Ordinance Day afforded Nigerians the opportunity to understand what the national symbols stood for, the display, treatment and their correct usage.
Okechukwu said: “Thus, judging from the state of lack of peaceful coexistence and religious intolerance, the continuous promotion of National symbols is paramount to instil the spirit of patriotism, love and respect for our fatherland. The National Symbols are expected to unite Nigerians by creating visual, verbal, or iconic representations of the national peoples, values, goals or history.”
She observed that though the country has about 250 ethnic groups, the national flag represented the country’s unity especially in international tournaments regardless of the ethnic background of each participant.
The national symbols convey essential meanings on the history, tradition, values, morals, culture and ideals of the nation. The NOA Director also said the eight unique symbols represent Nigeria and symbolize its unity.
They give clear idea of the various aspects of Nigerian life.
As officials of the Abia State office of the NOA took turns to educate the students and their teachers, they were reminded that the National Flag, for instance does not fly outside overnight. It is raised every morning on week days at 8am and lowered at 6pm. The flag is the dignity of the nation and anywhere it is flown even outside the country, Nigeria’s image is at stake.
The National Anthem and Pledge, just like the Coat of Arms, as symbols of unity, depict the collective heritage of the people. They engender the spirit of nationalism and patriotism and allegiance to Nigeria alone.
The Nigerian passport was presented as the only legal document that Nigerians require to travel outside the shores of the country. Without it the journey is illegal and can put the individual in trouble.
It is pertinent to note that many young Nigerians have been lured outside the country with promises of job and greener pastures, but without the passport some of them end up dead with journeying along illegal sea and desert routes.
Yet the passport is the right of every Nigerian and can be obtained by proper application to the Nigeria Immigration Service.
The students were also taken on the importance of the Nigerian currency as a means of exchange and warned not to deface, mutilate or write on the naira notes.
Unknown too many, squeezing or tearing of the currency attracts 21 years imprisonment. Besides, Nigerians must not spray the naira at social events.
The Constitution is the statute book bearing the rules guiding the existence of the entity called Nigeria. It guarantees the rights and responsibilities of citizens. It guides the conduct of citizens and rulers.
Every Nigerian is also expected to have the National Identity Card, a portable document that bears the personal information of the citizen. It is for easy identification of the individual in and outside the country.
Toothpaste reagents, household chemicals fueling infertility among Nigerians –Experts
•‘Nigeria ranks 8 in global fertility rate with 5.4 children per woman’
•A reduction from previous 6.35 –UN report
•Male responsible for over 50% couples’ infertility –Nordica Lagos
It’s expected that 50. per cent of women would conceive within three months of regular unprotected intercourse, 75 per cent in six months, and 80.0 to 85.0 per cent within a year, but this is no longer happening in the country due to continuous nose diving of ‘Total Fertility Rate’ which has been put to at 5.4 per woman in 2019 from 6.35 previous years. CHIJIOKE IREMEKA reports
n the recent time, there has been an observable but continuous reduction in both male and female fertility rates in the country, which have spurred a number of interventions to ensure that Nigeria’s fertility rates remain attractive and discourage other factors that intend to repudiate this desired achievement.
Thus, early detection of those factors that would lead to diminution in the fertility rates among Nigerian men and women; and addressing them accordingly, become the most attractive exercises to save a total of 48.5 million couples of reproductive age, who are currently facing fertility problem.
Experts, therefore, identify public awareness as a key to improving fertility rate in the country which had fallen to 5.4 rates per woman in Nigeria from 6.35 in the previous years. This, according to them, is the first point of call in addressing fertility problems in Nigeria.
The experts held that a simple and neglected issue or untreated disease can cause a woman or a man many years of fertility trauma in the future; hence, awareness creation and early diagnosis of these conditions would do the country a lot of good.
The 2019 edition of Endometriosis Walk and Carnival held at Muri Okunola Park, Victoria Island, Lagos was aimed at creating awareness against this condition, which is responsible for 40 per cent of female infertility in the country.
According to the organiser, the group that speaks up against Endometriosis in Nigeria, the Endometriosis Support Group Nigeria (ESGN), an initiate of Nordica Fertility Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos, the ailment occurs when the lining of the uterus called the endometrium grows in other places, than where it should be.
Sunday Telegraph learnt that the women affected by this disorder begin to experience severe pain, especially during her monthly menstrual period, which accounts for an estimated over 10 per cent of women all over the world.
A consultant obstetrics and gynaecologist, who is also the Managing Director, Nordica Fertility Centre, Dr. Abayomi Ajayi, said the condition is equally responsible for 40 per cent of infertility-related issues in women and for the benefit of those who may not be aware, March is the month for Endometriosis.
He said: “This is why over the last 12 years, we, at the Endometriosis Support Group Nigeria, have tried to raise awareness along the condition from a time, when a lot of people could not even pronounce the word Endometriosis.
“We have raised the level of awareness, but we know that a lot still needs to be done. This year, the global theme for Endometriosis, is ‘Time to End the Silence.’ This is very apt, when you consider that most sufferers are misunderstood, misrepresented and mismanaged.
“They live their lives in pain and may never be able to share the feeling with anybody. Growing up as a child, she likely will be labeled a ‘truant.’ You don’t want to work, so you skip classes. At work, she will be termed the ‘Lazy woman’ – Are you the only one who does monthly menstruation?
“In her relationship, her partner may think she is not cooperating ‘when it’s time for Za Orza rom and you can imagine how much pain she will be going through all by herself. She is alone. No one understands her. No one can feel what she feels. It’s a really lonely place to be.”
According to the consultant obstetrics and gynaecologist, the group decided to host a carnival which is focused on getting youths to understand this condition better to mark the 2019 edition, saying that the condition usually starts when a girl begins to menstruate and this happens usually when she in secondary school.
He continued: “So, we all have a sister, daughter, a niece, a cousin, or a grand daughter who may be suffering in silence, living with Endometriosis. Let’s encourage them to speak out, and seek help early before it gets late.
“In furtherance of our desire to raise awareness, we have instituted an annual essay competition for secondary schools. This year we have had entries from schools outside Lagos, which is a pointer to the fact that more and more people are getting to know about Endometriosis.
“This competition has, since its inception, last year, raised awareness among the young digital natives on social media about Endometriosis.
“We have embarked on a secondary schools advocacy campaign to raise awareness among teachers and students, so that they all have a better understanding of the condition as such that when they see their colleagues with symptoms of Endometriosis, they will empathise with them and not disparage them.”
He noted that the major concerns about living with Endometriosis is the fact that many of the sufferers are mismanaged because the symptoms may present themselves as other medical ailments, hence medical diagnosis is an area that requires urgent attention.
The fertility expert said ESGN has consistently provided training for medical practitioners to help them focus on getting the diagnosis right to aid the management on the condition.
“We have had top international doctors come and share their experiences with Nigerian doctors at our Physicians Roundtable. We are lending our voice to the clarion call for everyone to end the silence, to win the battle over the silent, yet reverberating source of unfulfilled dreams, shattered dreams, emotional and physical challenge…Endometriosis,” he added.
Meanwhile, while this is one serious and neglected condition that affects female fertility in the country, there are numerous others, including untreated infections, consumption of heavy metals and other conditions.
According to the United Nations Total Fertility Rate 2019, Nigeria ranks number 8 in the world, with a fertility rate of 5.4 children per woman. The relatively high fertility rate in Nigeria, according to the UN, can be attributed to a low use of contraception, early and universal marriage, the high child mortality rate, early child bearing and child bearing within much of the reproductive life span, and high social values placed on child bearing.
The world body noted that Nigeria’s fertility rate is on the nose dive from 6.35 in 1960 to 5.4 in 2019.
Also, for the Tropical Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, an official publication of Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria, infertility is defined as the inability of a couple to conceive following 12 to 24 months of exposure to pregnancy or the inability to carry a pregnancy to term.
This definition is reduced to six months for women over 35, women with a history of painful periods, irregular cycles, pelvic inflammatory disease and miscarriages.
“It is expected that 50.0% of women could conceive within 3 months of regular unprotected intercourse, 75.0% in 6 months, and 80.0%–85.0% within a year,” it said.
Sunday Telegraph learnt that infertility is a worldwide problem, affecting 8.0%–15.0% of couples in their reproductive age. There is a wide variation in the incidence of infertility in different parts of the world.
Institutional-based studies in some part of Nigeria within the last decades reveal an incidence rate of 4.0% 11.2%, and 48.1%, respectively, from Ilorin (North Central), Abakaliki (South East), and Oshogbo (South West).
According to the World Bank Data 2017, the fertility rate of a country is a figure that reflects the number of children a woman would give birth to under two conditions: if the woman were to experience age-specific fertility rates and if the woman were to survive through her reproductive child-bearing years.
Statistically, Sunday Telegraph learnt that this represents ages 15 to 44, or in some cases, ages 15 to 49.
It says: “The fertility rate isn’t a measure of how many children each woman in a specific area has. Instead, it’s interpreted as the expected number of children, a woman who survives to the end of the reproductive age span (49) will have during her lifetime if she experiences the given age-specific rates.
“This is also known as ‘Total Fertility Rate.’ The highest fertility rates are found in countries located in Africa.”
Based on World Bank data from 2017, the highest fertility rate can be found in Niger, where the rate is 7.2. Somalia has the next highest fertility rate of 6.2. The Democratic Republic of Congo comes in third place with a fertility rate of 6.0.
Causes and treatment infertility – Nordica
Addressing the causes and way out of female and male infertility, Nordica Lagos said infertility can result from a range of factors, saying that the problems with fertility may arise if a woman’s fallopian tubes have been damaged by pelvic infection, previous tubal pregnancy, or ruptured appendix.
It noted that many women with tubal problems benefit from in vitro fertilization (IVF).
It says: “Most women ovulate every 21 to 35 days. Women with cycles greater than 35 days are considered to have oligo-ovulation. Those who do not ovulate at all have anovulation. Medical therapy is often successful in these cases.”
It was gathered that advanced age is now the leading cause of infertility in the United States. For women, age-related infertility results from a decrease in the number and quality of her eggs over time. This is also the same with Nigeria’s situation.
Also, abnormalities of the cervix is said to affect fertility. One of the most common causes is prior surgery on the cervix, such as a cone biopsy, or laser therapy to treat cervical cancer, according to Dr. Abayomi Ajayi, saying that the treatment includes intrauterine insemination and IVF.
Sunday Telegraph learnt that abnormalities to the shape of the uterus can also impact fertility. Some of these include scar tissue, polyps, or fibroids. Hysteroscopy or a laparoscopy can be used to treat many uterine abnormalities.
More so, research has shown that the stress associated with fertility treatment can be at a level comparable to the stress associated with serious illness. Patients, who seek emotional support early in treatment are often better prepared for their experiences and find it significantly less stressful than patients who do not.
Centres like Nordica Fertility Centre and others, provide individuals and couples with counseling as well as group programmes where one meets other people who experience or have the same feelings.
Researches have showed that these programmes have been clinically proven to reduce the distress associated with infertility. It’s, therefore, believed that stress reduction and counseling can help one to be comfortable and confident while undergoing treatment.
On the other hand, doctors are worried about poor spermatozoa among youths with the rising cases of marriages crashing on the account of male infertility, especially low sperm count.
Experts have cleared the air that about the common misconception that infertility is only a woman’s problem, saying that almost 50% of infertile couples are related to the male partner, either alone or in addition to a female factor.
A Professor of Community Health and Consultant Public Health Physician at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Dr. Bayo Onajole, who is also a consultant obstetrics and gynaecologist said low sperm count can be as result of many things, saying that the cell phones being carried about emit radiation waves which can affect sperm count negatively.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), low sperm count is also called oligospermia. A complete absence of sperm is called azoospermia. Sperm count is considered normal when it is between 20 million to 200 million. It is lower than normal if it is fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen.
Prof. Onajole said radio waves can damage cell division in the body an impact negatively on the male fertility.
“We use a lot of things that emit radio isotopes like television sets, microwaves and others; it depends on how long and how close we stay with some of those products. How close and how long we stay with them can lead to damage of sperm cells and therefore the sperms,” he added.
The WHO noted that having a low sperm count can make it more difficult to conceive naturally, although successful pregnancies can still occur.
It noted that the problem with sperm, including a low sperm count and problem with sperm quality are quite common in modern time, saying that they are a factor in around one in three couples to five who are struggling to get pregnancy.
Corroborating these, German and Danish researchers, writing in journal ‘EMBO Reports,’ stated that chemicals in everyday products including toothpastes, soap and sunscreen could be damaging men’s fertility.
“For the first time, the study has directly linked common household chemicals with damage to human sperm,” he said.
According to the report, some of the chemicals are found in sunscreen. Also, on the list is triclosan, an antibacterial agent that is less used now than in the past but is still in some soaps and toothpastes.
“Laboratory tests, using a level of chemicals similar to what the body is generally exposed to, showed that these chemicals affect the way sperm swims. We know that obesity can reduce sperm count. We know that alcohol can reduce sperm count and coffee can also reduce sperm count,” the researchers said.
For those in childbearing ages, who still want to have children, the consultant obstetrics and gynaecologist, said it is important that they know some of the things that could prevent them from achieving conception.
Highlighting the problems of low sperm count, a Consultant Public Health Physician, Dr. (Mrs.) Omowunmi Bakare said it is not only low sperm count that constitutes problem for some men, saying that morphology of the sperm in terms of structure could similarly pose a challenge.
According to her, a lot of abnormal sperms abound and that is why sperms with abnormal structure pose fertility risk. She listed sperms with small head, short tail, double tail, among others as those that could pose a challenge to men.
Bakare noted that a sperm that is not able to move effectively may not be able to achieve its function.
She, however, said among factors that could impact the quality of sperm include some medications, including cancer drugs, diabetes drugs, psychoactive drugs, locally formulated alcoholic drink and alcohol use among others.
She urged men to be cautious about too high temperature around their testicle area, saying it is important that men adopt lifestyles that ensure proper breathing space for the location of male organ as part of strategies to achieve healthy sperm drive.
Buhari’s successor should come from South East –Gen Williams
Major – General Isola Williams (rtd) is a one – time Head, Training and Doctoring Command (TRADOC), Nigerian Army. In this interview with JOHNSON AYANTUNJI, he speaks on President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term, who succeeds the Daura- born retired general in 2023 among others. Excerpts
President Muhammadu Buhari has just inaugurated his cabinet for the second term, which he dubbed the Next Level Agenda executors. What do you make of the composition of the cabinet?
First of all, I do not understand which level we are now, not to talk of what the next level is. I do not understand the next level APC (All Progressives Congress) wants to move us to. That makes it difficult to sincerely assess the people he has chosen as ministers or ministers of state or even people for other public sector appointments.
The second thing is that in every country, there are some well known technocrats, whether they have political affiliations or not. Therefore one would expect that in the second term of the president, like he himself said, ‘This my second term, I do not want politicians as much as possible. I want to look for technocrats to be in my cabinet and who can also perform, as long as they are citizens of Nigeria. ‘In addition to that, we thought it was going to be less of political interests of the God Fathers, choosing their own candidates and giving him the free hands to choose the people who can work with him. Then suddenly, he turned around and said ‘I am going to work with people that I know, in the first cabinet, we did not see any spectacular choices or the people that he knows from the first term and pushing them to the second term. If you look at, for example, the choice of the Minister of Finance in the first term, it was not at the level of the type of Minister of Finance that we had, that everybody knows and are respected internationally, known in the financial world or in the accounting world. The person that we got was completely unknown, even in West Africa or even within Nigeria. What did we benefit from that choice? For me, the choices of people for the second term and bringing back the old people, which is weak in itself, whether in Nigeria or any part of the world, barely to bring back the same old people. He needs people with fresh ideas and new approach of doing things
For three months Nigeria was on standstill because there was no cabinet in place. As we are talking, the 2019 Budget, though passed by the Eighth Senate, is not functional yet because of the time it took President Buhari to send the list of his nominees to the Senate for screening and confirmation, after which a committee was set up to attach portfolio to ministers, What does this portend for the country?
People have spoken about governance in Nigeria, right from the first term, it appears we are being governed by people who have passed their level of competence. That has continued into the second term. When you have people who have passed their level of competence, you have problems with the institutions of governance, especially with the situation in Nigeria, where our institutions are not strong and personalities dominate more than institutionalized practices. But people coming into position of leadership in the world today, they are lowering both in ethical, competence and other standards that are associated with political leadership of the party, whether in Africa or in the UK. What that boils down to is that the followership are becoming more and more irresponsible in their choices of leadership, either through ethnicity, religion or both or they just do not care. Like a corrupt society like our own, the impact is most felt.
Would that also have accounted for the insecurity that pervades and permeates every part of the country?
That is obvious. In every normal country where there is strategic thinking and you have a serious issue with your policing and your crime fighting, you don’t post the military to do what the police can do. Whereas the military is facing insurgency within the country and they are finding it difficult to cope. The same old story: “Technical defeat”. What is technical defeat? Do we want to be like Pakistan in which you continue to fight insurgency forever? It creates instability in itself, not only insecurity and not insurgency alone. To some certain extent, the governors themselves are responsible.
However, one is seeing some signs of respite like in the North. Some governors are taking responsibilities. Look at the causes of insecurity and try to find what the root cause is. What has happened in Zamfara is a good example. See what the new governor is doing and bringing in some level of stability into the atmosphere. The Kano State Governor just announced that he is going to convert some forest areas into RUGA settlement. He has even said that there is no need for herdsmen to cross the Niger with their cattle. Most of the problems we create; we tend to put everything on the Federal Government. With this sort of thing, it will lessen the conflict between the herdsmen and the farmers.
In case of security, the South West governors have just woken up, especially now that the committee that was formed to look into how to solve the problem has recommended Community Policing and the President has said go ahead and do so. Already, some of them have a little of it. Neighbourhood Community Watch in Lagos, the same thing in Rivers State and there are state laws to back them up. What is the difference between Neighborhood Watch and Community Policing? All that is needed to do is to have standard of uniform training, Federal Government evaluating and monitoring constantly by head of policing all over the country. The governors should discipline themselves not to use what they have created for their own selfish ends. If not, those States where you have Community Policing will fall into the same trap like the Nigerian Police.
If you create Community Policing, do not create barracks. They should live within the people. If I am living in a house with a Community Policeman as a neighbour, if we are going on the street and he collects N100 bribe from me, I will say Baba Arinola, you are collecting bribe, I will tell your wife when I get home. I will tell my wife: ‘See what Baba Arinola has done o.’ Let them live with the people. That is what community policing is all about.
Recently, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, was in Aso Rock and he said that President Buhari has approved the deployment of Drones and CCTV across the South West to tackle crime and criminality. Is this the solution?
He is just speaking off the curve. He has not talked about how to develop Ife. I think somebody just brought a paper to him just for him to say something.
He was in Abuja and spoke after the meeting with the President, following the murder of the daughter of the Afenifere leader, Reuben Fasoranti.
They are just joking. What happened to all the CCTV they bought in the past? What happened to them? When they paid for them and they wanted to install them, they asked the Chinese contractor to let them share the money. Till today, the CCTVs are in the store in Abuja. Do a pilot project to know how it works before recommending it.
You mean the CCTV mounted along the highways cannot be used in the fight against crime?
Who pays for the CCTV?
The governors said they were ready to foot the bill.
It does not work that way. If the state governors said they would pay, these kidnappers, where did they stay, in the caves or where?
They take their victims into the forests where….
(Cuts in) Most of the forests they are talking about, some people stay there. If you have community policing like I have said, can’t they organize a patrol into the forest? Where are the dense forest is in the South West that people have not penetrated? So people who go into the forest to do illegal logging have not seen strange people there? What is the job of Home affairs and Chieftaincy ministry in each of the states? What are the home affairs for? It is the State ministry of interior for intelligence and the like. What are they doing? People talk a lot of none sense. It annoys me, as if we do not think. He just came from Abuja, he said this he said drone and…
That was shortly after the Akure – Ilesha Road became a no go area as travelers abandoned the road as a result of the rampant cases of kidnap for ransom?
People live along that road. If you travel from Lagos to any part of South West, you see people living by the side of the road, you see market and so on and so forth. If people are operating there and you have the Community Policing system there, if you have this sort of situation, it means the people are not supporting the security agency. But like you reported recently, the people who become the enemy of the state suffer. Therefore, they have to help the state for it to be safe. The State becomes secure.
The recent IPOB attack and assault on former deputy president of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, in far away Germany. What does it portend for us as a nation and for our politicians?
The way I look at it is in the first place who invited him?
The Igbos in the Diaspora did.
If they did invite him, they are responsible for his protection. The Igbos in the Diaspora, some of them are supporting IPOB, so they are the set of people contributing money to fund the activities of IPOB. They cannot deny that. Who are those responsible for propaganda on behalf of IPOB in response to what IPOB is all about, which means that in a country like Germany IPOB’s propaganda is stronger than the Nigerian government information system.
Secondly, his going there on the invitation of Igbos in the Diaspora should know the support of the Igbos for IPOB. He should have found out what the reactions of those people who are in support of IPOB would be to his visit. He played a prominent role in negotiation for the release of IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, when he was arrested and was being tried by the Federal Government. I think that has not been explained properly to the IPOB members.
Above all, since IPOB is a secessionist movement, anybody that is against the secessionist move and supports the government of the day, is an enemy to IPOB. Before IPOB, MASSOB exists. It is still within Nigeria, going about its activities in a non violent way and trying to convince people in their own way and I think, it is conditional. If they get what they need in the federal structure, there is no need to secede. IPOB has gone beyond that level.
Even though they believe that there are some requirements they need to fulfill and if satisfied that it meet their need, of course they will not secede. Going beyond that, I am sure that neither the Deputy Senate President nor the people who invited him expected that sort of reaction from the IPOB. The IPOB boys in Germany went too far. Not only did it show lack of solidarity between the Igbos, it also shows that they carried the problem of Nigeria abroad. Already, we did not have a good image, and know they are aiding the shame the more. It is very, very sad.
But then, it is also good too. It is a warning to the Igbo leaders that IPOB issue has gone to the people, they must find a way just like the people in Borno State, and they must find a way to solve the problem of Boko Haram.
Some say that the attack is a dent or hurting the ambition of the Ndigbo for 2023. Do you believe in this?
He was not seriously assaulted to send him to the hospital. Most of them should be careful when they go abroad. The IPOB went too far. That is not the best way to defend their interest.
The war against Boko Haram is 10 years old and Nigeria is yet to overcome it, rather it is mounting and the insurgents becoming more daring…
Obasanjo has said that we will fight them for another 15 years. Again that bothers on security architecture. Like I said, in every situation where you have security problems, you review and ask yourself, have I got the right institution and the right organisational approach to solve the problem? And if it continues for that long, then it tells you that you are doing it wrong. I think some people are deceiving the president by using the word ‘technical’.. The President himself does not understand what technical is. What is the meaning of technical defeat? People are dying every day and you are talking about technical defeat. Until people stop dying or being killed, there is nothing technical about that. There are soldiers’ graves all over the place.
There is the allegation that the war commanders do not want the war to end because they are making money from it…
(Cuts in) In every war, there is corruption. The only difference is that in our own here, there is continuity to the point that the other day, somebody was moving N400 million by road and the human beings and the money disappeared. That is why we need drones. We do things that make people abroad laugh at us. How can a general whose soldiers are in the war front, tell his soldiers to carry N400 million by road. It makes us a joke of the century all over the world. What they are saying is all crap.
The military has been compromised and the standard is being lowered. How would you compare the military in your days with what we have today?
When you compare the past to the present, there are socio economical conditions that have changed. What you consider to be bad then, today you consider it as normal. The way the younger ones greet their elders, it has changed. Obviously, there is something wrong with ethics in the military today. To some certain extent, you cannot blame the military. There is political authority over them. When the political authority says something wrong, it calls for change. That is why you re- jig your security architecture, security sector reform, everything. Where there are no changes, what do you see? Rot. While the Commander in Chief says I have told them to do new security architecture, put it down on paper. Give a directive on paper, executive order. You did that for local government sector, why can’t you do that for the military as a whole. It is not only the military, the whole public sector. See the case of the Head of the Civil Service. But is it true? She has resigned and maybe she believes that if she resigns, the whole thing will die down. What she did… Many would tell you that many houses you see in Abuja belong to Civil Servants. Haven’t we seen many people in whose account money were paid into? Is it from their normal pay? The answer is No!
There is this apprehension that the release of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) may lead to more trouble.
I do not think El-Zakzaky will be crazy enough to become like the Boko Haram. The only thing that can happen is that if he dies in detention, then he loses control over his own people. What I am afraid may happen in their own case will be urban guerilla warfare. It is worse than Boko Haram because they strike and go back into the bush. Their own, they will be in the city and be attacking anyone all over Nigeria.
The way out of it is that the Islamic Community in Nigeria must find a way out of it. Nigeria is not the only country where you have the Shiite people. The Shiite is like the Pentecostal. The Sunni and the Shiite must find a way to solve the problem. The government cannot do it.
The Buhari government, two months back, honoured The Late Chief M. K. O Abiola national symbol of the current democratic dispensation by naming the National Stadium, Abuja, after him. What do you make of this?
There is a difference between legitimacy and morality and to be honoured by the people is more honourable than government. I am very, very sad that Abiola’s children did not honour their own father. You heard of Ford Foundation, Bill Gates Foundation and so on and so forth. They were dead and long gone before they were set up. Their children are not even associated with it, but they carry his name. It was not set up by the American government but from the riches of the Ford family. What stopped the Abiola children from doing that immediately the man died? He was good to many people in this country. When I was in sports, he was very generous. If they ask me to contribute to an Abiola Foundation today, I will gladly do that. Not for helping me personally but for what he did for sports in this country. I will pay a monthly subscription. That is how I feel about it. I do not care about whether they recognize June 12 or not.
There are speculations that Bola Tunubu, even though he has not made it public, wants to succeed Buhari in 2023. How feasible is this?
Yes, he has the right to aspire to succeed Buhari. It is his constitutional right. But I have a different view about it. The next leader in 2023 should come from the South East. Obasanjo has gone for two terms, Yar’ Adua who did not complete his two terms had Jonathan who did it for him. In addition, he had one term, Buhari making two terms now. We have been rotating it. How can the South have two? Secondly, Yoruba man as Vice President, two terms. Why don’t we have an Igbo president and somebody from the middle belt as Vice President? Within Middle Belt, Plateau, Kogi, Benue, as vice President. That is what I am looking for. Any ethnic group in this country can produce one very good leader.
Nigeria’s prisons breeding hardened criminals –Psychologists, others
Nigerian Prisons Reforms which came alive three weeks ago, following the Presidential accent to the 2018 Prisons Bill, may have reluctantly ended the country’s capital punishment for offenders and turned the service into Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS). CHIJIOKE IREMEKA reports
…say facilities must be correctional centres
•Inmates should be better when leaving –Dr. Obioha
t is anticipatory that Nigeria will gain a lot from the latest reforms that has taken place in the country’s offenders’ management, which efficiently changed the Nigerian Prisons Service to Nigerian Correctional Service, following President Muhammadu Buhari’s signing of the 2018 Prisons Bill into law.
Sought after many decades, the new Law, also hope that Nigeria will gain handsomely if such changes are not mere expression of ‘an old wine in a new bottle’ and go beyond nomenclature change.
Of most important changes, the commutation of death sentence to life imprisonment where an inmate sentenced to death has exhausted all legal procedures for appeal and a period of 10 years has elapsed without the execution of the sentence is an inclusion to be proud of.
In this situation, the new law prescribes that the chief judge of a state, may commute the sentence of death to life imprisonment even as it re-echoes the need for prison’s routine inspection by the Prisons Comptroller to ensure that the custodian centres (prisons) are not overcrowded.
The new law signed into law by Mr. President provides that in the event that the custodial centre has exceeded its capacity, the state controller shall within a period, not exceeding one week, notify the Chief Judge of the state, the attorney-general, the prerogative of mercy committee, the state criminal justice committee and other relevant bodies.
Sequel to this, it prescribes sanctions for any state controller who fails to notify the relevant bodies when the custodial centre approaches full capacity within the stipulated time-frame.
The new law also empowers the correctional centre superintendent to reject intakes of inmates where it is apparent that the centre in question is filled to capacity.
According to the law, the relevant information about a person’s offence, biometrics, personal history, risk and needs assessment, including the person’s psychological or mental health status and his antecedents shall be kept in a centralised database management system of the correctional service.
In the area of parole and probation, the non-custodial faculty of the correctional service, as prescribed by the law, is responsible for the administration of non-custodial measures – community service, probation, parole, restorative justice measures and such other measures as a court of competent jurisdiction may order.
For the ‘restorative justice’ measure, the Act approved victim-offender mediation, family group conferencing, community mediation and other conciliatory measures as may be deemed necessary pre-trial, trial during imprisonment or even post-imprisonment stages.
Sunday Telegraph learnt that the law prohibits torture, inhuman and abusive treatment of inmates, which bring the prisons system into compliance with international human rights standards and correctional practices.
The law also creates custodial centres for treatment of long term first-offenders; farm centres for convicts with good conduct who have six months or less to serve; opens satellite custodial centres for convicts serving three months imprisonment or less, and awaiting trial persons charged for minor offences who are required to be presented in courts without major custodial facilities.
In the new law, the goal of the institution will be to correct, reform, rehabilitate, reintegrate all persons legally interned; provide safe, secure, and humane custody for inmates; identify the existence and causes of anti-social behaviours of inmates; initiate behaviour modification in inmates through provision of medical, psychological, spiritual and counseling services for all offenders, and provide support to facilitate the speedy disposal of cases of persons awaiting trial.
It will also empower inmates through the deployment of educational and vocational skills training programmes and facilitate incentives and income generation through custodial centres, farms and industries.
Sunday Telegraph notes that if these changes apply to all facets of the country’s correctional service, respite will be coming the way of many Nigerians serving different jail terms, including those on death roll and awaiting trial.
Sunday Telegraph observes that these changes may have reluctantly ended Nigeria’s capital punishment posture for offenders on the death roll as there has been always delay in execution of condemned offenders due to one reason or the others.
In this instance, in the past decades, it was only former governor of Edo State Adams Oshiohmole that had signed necessary papers required that allowed the hangman to perform his duty on a certain offender.
Sequel to this, it is hoped that Nigeria has automatically stalked into the league of other countries of the world that have thrown capital punishment off-board.
According to Emeka Obioha of Department of Safety and Security Management, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa, the main reason for establishment of the prison institution in all parts of the world, Nigeria inclusive, is to provide a rehabilitation and correctional facility for those who have violated the rules and regulations of their society.
In the general issue of imprisonment as an aspect of punishment, he noted, the retributivists and the deterrent philosophers’ stress that a deviant should be punished in order to pay him back for his actions and to deter him or others from committing crime.
According to him, it’s on this basis that imprisonment is appropriately conceived as a formal perspective of inflicting pain on the individuals, which has been an aspect of the traditional criminal justice system in various societies in Nigeria.
“While imprisonment is a prescription, prisonisation is the process of living within a confinement known as a prison, a physical structure in a geographical location where a number of people live under highly specialised conditions, utilise the resources and adjust to the alternatives presented to them by a unique kind of social environment that is different from the larger society,” Obioha said.
He noted that there are obvious basic social and cultural characteristic that are present in the prison community and other total institution alike, which do not exist in the larger society.
Obioha continued: “The prison community with its distinct culture and way of life epitomises a complete design capable of changing the attitudes of individual members for good or bad depending on the personal experience and the social network action.
“The way of life in the prison provides the means and ways for the adjustment processes of inmates. Its culture is a dynamic one, which consists of all sorts of value reorientation and internalisations.
“The Nigerian prison system was established in accordance with three forms of penal legislation which operate alongside each other in the country; the Penal Code and the accompanying Criminal Procedure Code Cap 81 Laws of the Federation 1990 (CPC); the Criminal Code and the accompanying Criminal Procedure Act Cap 80 Laws of the Federation 1990 (CPA) and the Sharia penal legislation in 12 northern states, which applies to only Muslim members of these states.”
Sunday Telegraph gathered that on the basis of imprisonment policy, the prison service was established to manage criminals in prison yards.
It constitutional function empowers the Nigerian prisons now Nigerian Correctional Service to keep convicted offenders (prisoners) for safe custody, keep awaiting trial inmates in custody, until law courts ask for their production, punish offenders as instructed by the law courts, reform the convicted prisoners and rehabilitate and to reintegrate prisoners who have completed the sentences in the prison.
It was based on this premises that Obioha inferred that the main aim of establishing the prison institution in all parts of the world including Nigeria is to provide a rehabilitation and correctional facility for those who have violated the rules and regulations of their society.
According to Benjamin Okorie – Ajah Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, a lot has been written and are available on the issue of criminal justice administration in Nigeria.
He investigated the nature and cause of criminal justice failure in Nigeria, and observes that Nigerian prisons have become breeding ground for criminals instead of being corrective homes, hence the reforms was inevitable.
He recommended that unethical practices by the criminal justice administrators should be checkmated and controlled effectively for efficient correction of inmates, adding that introduction of non-custodial sentence in the Nigerian justice system will correct imprisoned offenders as expected.
The prison system, according to Adebisi Oyewo, is the stomach of the state. This is because the institution is expected to serve as the melting point for the activities of the security agencies. The Nigerian prison system was established in accordance with three forms of penal legislation which operate alongside each other in the country.
He said, “The primary duty of the criminal justice system is to dispense justice in accordance with the due process or rule of law. In practical terms, justice system is concerned about the determination of the guilt or innocence of a suspect, and the allocation of punishment that is fair and proportional to the convict’s offence.
“The system according him it’s an embodiment of crime regulating techniques, which represents the whole range of government agencies that functions as the instrument of the state to enforce its set rules necessary for the maintenance of peace, order, and tranquility.
“Similarly, it is a system comprising of many bodies, groups, institutions or agencies that have been charged with the responsibilities of ensuring social agreement and mass compliance with the law, and deciding whether or not an individual is guilty of violating the laws of the society, and the appropriate punishment to be meted to such an individual.
“Indeed, the fundamental nature of justice is most glaring particularly in the field of criminal justice system where none of the parties should be denied of it. The person accused of having committed the crime, the victim of such crime, that is, the offended, and the society itself, all deserve justice.”
More so, the above assertion was given a judicial imprimatur by late Justice Chukwudifu Oputa while commenting about the necessity of doing justice in the administration of criminal law.
He said: “Justice is not a one way traffic. It is not justice for the appellant only. Justice is not even only a two-way traffic. It is really a three-way traffic justice for the appellant accused of a heinous crime of murder; justice for the victim, the murdered man, the deceased, whose blood is crying to heaven for vengeance and finally justice for the society at large, the society whose social norms and values has been desecrated and broken by the criminal act complained of.”
He noted that everybody deserves justice as citizens cannot survive unreasonable and unbearable social conditions, unless administration of criminal law is anchored in justice, both the person who set the machinery of justice on motion, the accused and the entire society whose law has been violated deserve justice.
“At the low rung of our national life, you have tens of thousands of persons languishing in jail on awaiting trial while at the upper echelon, you have intractable thousands of corruption and financial crime cases bogging down the judicial system as the manifestation of this failure,” Adebisi added.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari, last month, signed into law, the Prisons Bill, 2018, which changed the Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS) to the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS).
Wild reactions across continent will force South Africa to its senses, says Keshi
Ambassador Joe Keshi is a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at various times Charge d’Affaires, Embassy of Nigeria in The Hague, Netherlands and Nigeria’s Consul-General in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States. In this interview with BIYI ADEGOROYE, he weighs in on the recurrent xenophobic attacks in South Africa and the retaliatory reactions of many African countries in their disappointment by the complacency of the South African government and the people’s ignorance of history
What is your general overview of the xenophobic attacks on some foreign residents in South Africa which have reportedly claimed about 200 lives since 2016?
My general view is that we should look at both sides. We have spent the last few days dwelling on the negative and the rest of it, but what matters to me is what I consider the latest development as a result of attacks in South Africa.
For instance, for the first time we are witnessing a wild continental reaction, in the sense that quite a number of African countries, including Nigeria are reacting to the latest attacks. Interestingly enough some countries have taken some bold steps bearing in mind that this is not the first time such attack have taken place.
Nigeria, for instance has drawn the red line. So the fact that both government and citizens of various countries have reacted the way they did has escalated the matter and South Africa is beginning to feel the depth of the peoples’ feeling to the xenophobic attack on other Africans doing business in South Africa.
The other significant part of it is that this is the first time I’ve srrn some serious reaction from the government of South Africa. In the past they have been very complacent. For instance, you must have seen their Foreign Affairs Minister coming out to make a statement over the implication of this issue. The important aspect of these positive developments, either from the angle of African leaders or the people is that some concerted efforts should be taken to bring to an end these incessant killings of Africans doing business in South Africa.
In particular, how do you see some African countries’ boycott of the World Economic Forum Summit and violent reactions in Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Congo DR?
You must have observed that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Malawian president too boycotted the event. The Zambian national football team too had shunned the match slated for South Africa. It is a welcome development, because it sent a very strong and unambiguous message to the South African government that enough is enough, and that we have tolerated this behavior for too long. And that that the government of South Africa should take the bull by the horn and deal with the situation because it is getting out of hand. So we praise the African leaders who carried out the boycott of the Summit and also got those who had arrived there to join the boycott such that they would not participate in the event. And then it sent a clear signal to the South African government to do something urgently about these attacks by the miscreants in their society.
It has been alleged that the attacks were precipitated by a campaign promise of President Cyril Ramaphosa. Don’t you agree the South African government is tacitly stoking the fire?
I’m not too sure that this was what the president had in mind during his campaign. Number two, I’m very skeptical about promises politicians make during elections, because during elections politicians make statements they don’t even remember after the polls. Bear in mind that the president was inaugurated not too long ago and since then, I don’t think he has done anything significant about it. The point now is that they are watching and seeing global reactions and protests against the attacks and that will definitely goad them to take some actions.
That is not to say that some politicians in South Africa might not be using the situation to promote their political interests. What we need to look at now is not those who stoke the fire or started it, but to inspire South Africa to be very firm in dealing with these miscreants that committed these attacks and looting of shops in Ekurhuleni, Tsahwane and Johannesburg Central Business Districts of African residents in their country.
You must have observed that the South African president has also convened a security meeting to address these violent attacks, even as his government had also called on its people to stop the attacks on foreigners in Gauteng and Kwazulu Natal, Pretoria and other parts of the country. The fact is that no amount of criminality and sporadic attacks can address the grievances. The Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and the South African High Commissioner in Nigeria, Bobbie Moroe have also held joint press conferences to douse the tension and articulate actions being taken by both countries.
How do you see the trending video where South African Deputy Police Minister, Bongani Nkongi, justified the xenophobic attacks because 80 per cent of residents of South Africa cities and towns like Hillbrow were foreigners who are taking their jobs and constituting a political threat?
Apparently, this young man has no good sense of history. He did not realise that he would not be in that post today but for the assistance, or external efforts, including Africans that compelled he whites to give up power, thereby dismantling apartheid.
Also, he is also telling us that he is more interested in protecting his job than helping to address the problem. For me he is playing to the gallery and we can afford to ignore the statement. One of the countries that suffered most in the war against apartheid is Zambia. Many times, the South African defence forces of the apartheid regime raised and bombarded Zambia and Angola Why? This was because President Kenneth Kaunda was at the forefront of the battle against apartheid. That is why that minister and young people like him who have no knowledge of the apartheid struggle could make such statements. I must add that he also exhibited the fact that he has no clue of security management and protection of the people, and he should be on the side of the rule of law and order in the society not criminality.
Giving African leaders’ support for and huge investment in the dismantling of apartheid as you have observed, would you say the current treatment of Africans resident in South Afrcan reflect that of gratitude?
Many of them are still alive, though a lot of them are dead, but I can tell you that they will feel very disappointed and I’m sure the governments of these countries have said so. But I don’t know how knowledgeable the bulk of the young men in South Africa today are of the assistance of the global community especially of the African continent to their struggle. They too, and the African National Congress members should educate the people and help them to be more accommodating of the Africans than they are now in their respective communities.
Could it be said too that the level of criminality and youths restiveness were because of the failure of the ANC government to deliver, or that they went to sleep as soon as apartheid was dismantled?
Absolutely and this is because ANC went to sleep instead of rebuilding the nation after the defeat of apartheid. You have to look at the character, nature and level of these miscreants who carry out these attacks and looting of shops. These are basically uneducated or half-educated or are very lazy and lacking skills required for employment; these are people who are jobless and have no means of livelihood.
So these are people who believe that they have not benefitted from the dismantling of apartheid; these are people who feel that successive governments in South African have failed them. As part of that failure, they also believe that South African governments have allowed citizens of other African countries to ‘take over’ what belongs to them in terms of businesses and job opportunities, that these are these foreigners running their streets, their stores and the rest of them. When they see these people, they become envious and this invariably leads to these attacks.
You must also know that role poverty plays in this kind of situation. The other side of it is that we must not forget what Franz Fanon said in one of his works, the ‘Wretched of the Earth,’ that when the oppressed cannot go after the oppressor, he turns to himself. So you can see that these miscreants today have no courage to attack the white minority in South Africa who control 80 per cent of the nation’s economy.
They do not have the courage to go after the South African government that has failed to change their economic situation. And so the only people they can see who are within their community, who they perceive as their ‘oppressor’ are the blacks foreigners who are doing well. These fuel jealousy and they form part of the things that lead to these kinds of attacks. There is no doubt that the perpetrators of these acts are those who have failed, and there are millions of them who have not benefited from the black government that has been in power for so long. And you can see that in the last election the ANC lost considerable votes. If you have a very strong dynamic leader leading a pack of other people, I am sure he will beat the ANC mercilessly in the next election.
Don’t you think this may spell unimaginable problem in Africa economically too?
It is not only South Africa, but everyone. As you are conducting this interview, I got some pictures from a very good friend of mine whose auto shop was vandalised on Airport Road in Lagos during the protest. You are also aware of the number of Shoprite outlets and South African investments that have been vandalised across the country. For all you know, some of them are owed by Nigerians.
If I’m right I also read that the police killed one of the protesters in Nigeria on Wednesday and one or two others have been killed in some parts of Lagos during these protests. These people are Nigerians. That is why I want to tell you journalists to be more rational than being emotional about your reportage of issues like these because they can have far-reaching damaging consequences.
If they close MultiChoice, Shopright, PEP and MTN along with other South-African investments in this country, it is going to be a huge loss to their parent companies in South Africa and even to us here. Similarly, many Nigerian artistes and activists have canceled their various engagements and participations in some events slated for South Africa in the next few weeks to commiserate with those who lost their lives in the attacks. You can’t have this kind of situation without some economic consequences.
How do you think the current government action of recalling of Nigeria’s High Commissioner and sending of special envoy – timely or appropriate?
Government has taken three main actions. I thing the most visible was the boycott of the World Economic Summit in South Africa. I think that is welcome and the decision to send a Special Envoy to South Africa too. The idea of sending a Special Envoy was to convey a strong message and make it very clear, that the attack on Nigerians was very unacceptable, and also to gather information as to why these things re-occur. In this regard, they envoy will speak to the Nigerians, speak to the South Africans and the government and report back to the Nigerian president. That will help the president and his team take the next line of action.
I heard that we have also recalled our High Commissioner in South Africa. If I have to advise, I will say that we should have left our High Commissioner there because the Nigerian High Commission in Johannesburg at this time needs a string leadership because of the crises. I know that the Special Envoy has gone, but with the South Africa government trying to deal with the situation they will need the contributions of the ambassadors and high commissioners on ground. At this time, I can see the South African Foreign Affairs Minister calling a meeting of all the ambassadors and high commissioners there to brief them about government action over this. Even if our Charge d’Affaires attends such meetings, he is not given the same status as the High Commissioner but that be as it may, they have made our position clear to them and we leave it at that.
As it is right now, what should the AU do and who should it hold responsible?
The best the AU can do at this moment is to hold ANC and the South African government responsible for these attacks. They must also raise the issue at the next meeting of African Heads of Government because when a country signed the Free Trade Agreement, it is actually promoting free movement by persons, goods and services as well as economic co-operation and the ultimate is common market across the continent. No, a country cannot sign this agreement and begins to attack those who are trading or doing businesses and bringing these agreements into practical reality in their country. Or it begins to say ‘no, some people cannot live in my own country.’ That is unacceptable; it does not work that way. It is one agreement we have to live with and ensure Africans are free to move in different directions to promote trade and development. That is what happens in Europe that many people move around the continent in practical realisation of their trade agreements within the European Union.
What about the claims that some of the victims of the tacks are drug peddlers and perpetrators of other crimes?
The issue of criminality is no excuse for these frequent extra-judicial barbaric killings and other behavior of the miscreants. There is a saying that two wrongs don’t make a right. The fact that you have criminals in your neighborhood does not mean you should take laws into your hands. That is why you have the police; that is why you have what former governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajumobi called ‘constituted authority’ to deal with this matter. It is not just a very lame excuse but also attestation to the failure of the government to ensure security of lives and property and that is another reason the Deputy Police Minister should take responsibility for the attacks because he has failed his own people.
Policing is an executive function and it is government’s failure to rein in the criminals in those communities that made the people to take laws into their hands. The judicial system in South Africa has been lenient with the crimes even as the utterances of the young minister have contributed to this crisis. Secondly, anywhere you see illicit drug traders, you can be sure that some individuals in the police force are involved and I have no doubt in my mind that some police officers in South Africa are involved with the drug dealers and these policemen should be investigated too. It is instructive, though that over 100 of these miscreants in South Africa have been arrested for these barbaric acts.
How can we stem this tide of mass migration of Nigerians abroad?
That is what I call domestic dimension to these crises in South Africa – even though this is an area many of my colleagues are uncomfortable with me. We should not neglect our economy as a country. Indeed the earlier we develop this Nigerian economy the better for us to stem this tide of mass migration. Migration is fueled by under-development and we should stop taking back seat in this development of our industries and the entire nation to stem the tide.
On the other hand, I will advise Nigerians abroad to desist from flaunting their wealth, but keep a low profile while making their money and plying their trade. Thousands of Nigerians are doing great in the educational and health institutions in South Africa and they operate within the law. They deserve government protection even as we reciprocate that here. They should live within the laws and keep low profile and avoid raising avarice among their neighours.
JAKIN NGO distributes free school kits to 500 orphans to mark World Literacy Day
he International Literacy Day is celebrated all over the world every September 8 and to commemorate the day, JAKIN, a non-government organisation gave out free school kits to 500 orphans and vulnerable children.
The children are drawn from 86 government schools including 39 primary schools and 47 secondary schools across nine LGAs in Lagos State.
For the past 10 years, JAKIN NGO has been at the forefront to help eradicate illiteracy and promote education, especially for orphans and vulnerable children through their annual ‘Dress a Child for School Project’.
Between 2010 and 2018, JAKIN NGO has dressed 3, 750 children for school.
In her welcome address, the founder of JAKIN NGO, Mrs. Olubukola Adebiyi, recounted the laudable works of JAKIN NGO for the past 10 years since the inception of ‘Dress a Child for School Project’.
“In 2010, JAKIN NGO spotted this critical need for education and literacy and commenced our journey of joining the global community in commemorating the September 8 International Literacy Day by investing annually in education of Nigerian children with 200 orphans.
“With the help of our committed partners, this number has grown yearly from the initial 200 to 3,750 orphans and vulnerable children in this 10th edition. To further buttress our relentless dedication to improve the standard of education in Lagos State, we celebrated our 15th year anniversary in October 2018 with the renovation of a block of two dilapidated classrooms at Regan Primary School, Onike in Mainland LGA. Today we are dressing 500 orphans and vulnerable children for the next school year and we are encouraged to do much more for the education of our children,” she said.
She went ahead to present brand new school kits containing: two uniforms, a school bag, one pair of sandals, two pairs of socks, a dozen exercise books, math sets and branded pencil case containing all necessary stationaries to 500 beneficiaries comprising 255 males and 245 females out of which 234 are in primary schools, while 266 are in secondary schools.
The Chairperson of the occasion, Mrs. Folashade Adefisayo, the Commissioner for Education, Lagos State said: “What JAKIN NGO is doing is a wonderful thing. Mrs. Adebiyi obeyed the call and is making a difference. When you give, God gives you more and unbelievably, even to you and your family. Going to school is important and you cannot have a career without going to school.
“As I look at these children you clothed for the next school year calendar, I see our presidents and governors in the making one day. God bless you and your team.”
The event was hosted by veteran comedian, Koffi with songs rendition by Monique and dance by Cymbal dance group.
There were presentations from the JAKIN Children’s Club, which included drama, a fashion parade and news presentation which briefed the audience on current happenings in the organisation. Awards were also presented to the sponsors for their contributions.
Demolition: Community where displaced residents live in wooden kiosks
Occupants of the demolished Pako stalls, shanties and kiosks along Lagos-Badagry Expressway in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State, are currently living with their wives, children and relatives in wooden kiosks like poultry birds in search of daily bread. CHIJIOKE IREMEKA spoke with some of them
It was an unbelievable reality at Pako area along Lagos – Badagry Expressway where families and friends live in wooden kiosks as would poultry birds among other domestic pets. Such strange reality drew our correspondent’s attention to these physical features and kept him wondering what manner of hardship would warrant a mother, father, children and relatives to assume the lives of poultry birds and other domestic animals in a cage.
Come rain come shine, these nuclear and extended families find refuge in the kiosks which are no more than five feet in height and therefore, cannot allow anybody to stand in it. The kiosks itself can barely accommodate them. Perhaps, the only one with elevated height should be 4.9 foot while majority of others live in kiosks less than this as the pictures shows. During the Sunday Telegraph’s visit to the area, one could see them crawling inside the kiosks with their legs showing from the cave-like doors with polythene bags as their signature curtains.
The residents of the enclave sources materials with which to make these living kiosks the way one goes in search of the materials to build. The kiosks are not such that would allow for cross ventilation. While some of the residents have completed theirs and parked in with half of their loads outside, others whose ‘flats’ are yet to be completed go about scavenging on the site to complete theirs. Sunday Telegraph’s close observation showed that the kiosks were made from old planks, zinks,
PVCs and others rejected materials from the shanties which were demolished. These kiosks were built on waste and refilled area of the buffer zone along the axis. All waste materials, ranging from used carpets, tarpaulin, old zinks, and plywoods among other waste materials were present in their kiosks which formed raw or building materials for the new ‘estate’ on the filth. This, perhaps, underscores the level of poverty in the country, where the poor cannot afford the lowest price decent accommodation.
This also poses a danger for the state and other people as the area is gradually turning into a slum.
These people survive by supplying labour to building sites and carrying people’s load in the market, especially building materials to their destinations and get paid. Some of them also survive by scarvenging.
Further observation showed that they do not make use of mosquito nets yet living happily and roam about the market seeking for load to carry and eke a live. The trucks they use in carrying the loads are being registered and hired. In deed, the God of the poor is great.
For Ishakwu Abdullahi, he will continue to live in the kiosk at Pako until he is able to turn his fortunes around. He is looking forward to get a gate keeping job which will enable him to have a better house and sell small articles and make money from it, by so doing, he can bring his fiancee to Lagos to assist him.
He believes that once he has a gatekeeping job, he can easily aford a more decent house and still make a small amount of money from his stipend that can sustain him and his would be wife.
Adamawa born, has no regrets coming to Lagos or living in kiosks while waiting for better and rewarding tomorrow. Ibrahim Musa, another occupant of the ‘estate’ on filth is not scared of or being of snakes and scorpions in the kiosks even as their kiosks were built in a boundary with buffer zone forest which had never been cleared for at least 16 years running. He reposed all right of protection to God, saying, “God will not allow snakes to enter our house but if the snakes and scorpions come, we will kill them.”
He continued: “We have anti snakes (snake expellant). We put it around the house and snakes will not come near. We have seen anybody bitten by a snake here. We are many in my room, we are up to seven people; they are not my family members; they are friends.” Ibrahim, who supplies labour to customers who wish to buy wood and other building materials at the market, said water does not enter into the house when it rains but Sunday Telegraph wondered the possibility of that claim. He said: “Some people live with their families. Children also live here with us. Our women cook and sell food here; we buy food from them. We hire the truck or wheelbarrow that we work with since I don’t have enough money to buy my own.
“If I take this truck out of here, I have to pay for it. So, I have to see your load and we bargain price before I will go and get the truck to carry it.” Ibrahim Musa treks great distance just to feed himself and family. If he sees a load that will reward him handsomely, he can trek from Oshodi to Mile 2 with what he is carrying; he is a very fast walker. “At first, I was sympathizing with one of them who came to carry my woods and boards. I was trying to call a vehicle to carry them based on the distance and weight of the woods but I didn’t know that I was trying to take away job from him,” said a customer, Mr. Dike Ibemezina.
He continued: “Funny enough, when we had settled on the service fee, I went to my house to rest before I could get to the site where he will drop the materials considering the distance, but before I knew it, he was already at the site calling me to come. “These boys are really taking jobs from motor vehicles. They are helpful because they do not charge as high as the vehicles do. Also, some of the are reliable as they can be your guarantor should your money finish in the market.
You can call your customer and tell him to send some materials to you through them and you pay upon delivery. “They can carry your load and on getting to your house, you will give them the customer’s balance and they will give it to the person and save you the stress of going to and fro the market.”
Wondering how safe it is for them to live there without the government coming to demolish the kiosks and their property, Ambrose Shekaru said, “No, they will not demolish it. “If they see that people are living in it, they will not demolish it. We don’t have anywhere to go to now.
We have been living in our shops before it was demolished and some of us just came to Lagos to make money and run away from killings in the North.” According to him, they decided to make these kiosks home in order not to attract government’s attention since it will not be too visible while travelling on the expressway, except somebody goes to report to the government. “We are managing here. May be we will move to another place after but we get our daily food from the market,” he said.
Sunday Telegraph learnt that these people, especially the Hausa extraction there deal on recycled goods like used glasses, woods, mattresses, roofing sheets, rugs and so many other places. For used window glasses, one can get one for as low as between N100 and N200 depends on the size of it while 2×2 roofing wood sells for N200 instead of N300 or N350 per new one. Also, 2×3 wood sell for N300 instead of N500 for new ones. It was learnt that many people who make use of these prefer these recycled woods because they appeared to have been fully dried and stronger than the new ones.
More so, it’s easier for them to know the wood that cannot be eaten by ternites when buying the old ones. According to a carpenter, Isaiah Moses, any old wood that has not been eaten by mots while it was in used cannot be eaten again, saying that they are stronger than the new ones.
Sunday Telegraph learnt that major of the Hausa extraction living in this place are those who just came to Lagos in search of greener pastures who had nowhere to stay. “I came to Lagos four months ago. My brother brought me to Lagos to help him in his business (recycling business) and we are living here together. I don’t know anywhere here; he is the one that knows where we get the used materials,” said Ismaila Audu from Zamfara State. “I have been hearing about Lagos and today I am here. I like here better than Zamfara. I carry loads for people and I collect materials that people don’t use. We sell it and make money.
Some Alaba Aragun people come to buy from us and send some of them back to the North,” he added. More so, it’s also worrisome that despite the filth on this axis, women were seen cooking food in commercial quantity. Some of them were seen cooking with 10 gallons of brass pot and other 20 gallons which they sell to their men and other people. A food vendor, identified as Ajiah, was selling her food on the debris together with a suya seller, who was processing his suya amid swarm of house flies in different sizes.
If one is a suya lover and sees this man and his suya, one might lose appetite for suya for ever. “I sell my food in the market and sometimes, I finish what I cook and sometime, it will remain. I cook rice, bean cake and our native foods,” she said. Ajiah, the mother of two, was thankful to God for the opportunity given to her to be in Lagos where, according to her, she makes money and send some home for upkeep of those in Sokoto.
Meanwhile, unofficial figures show there are thousands of others between the ages of 19 and 28 now in Lagos State. They live in inner city centres and in remote corners of the state. In fact, these people, especially those who buy disused materials are present in every remote community in the state. Aside other occupations, 80 percent of those coming into Lagos from the core-north Hausa Fulani enclave are from Chad, Niger, Somalia, Cameroun and far flung Sudan.
They are unkempt, but tend to provide an essential service to the citizenry, considering the state. Some of them have taken advantage of the services they have monopolised to commit all sorts of atrocities that have led to loss of lives and property.
They are regrouping again and forming cells. At this time, living in kiosks and have no form of identification. Perhaps, these are the things the Lagos State government feared and demolished the shanties, stalls and steads along the axis which it said hoodlums used as hideouts.
Recall that the Governor of Lagos State, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had earlier in June, during an inspection of the dilapidated state of the road on the axis, directed relevant agencies to ensure removal of all illegal shanties, shops and other illegal structures impeding movement of traffic, constituting security threat as soon as possible to allow for smooth operation of the ongoing road rehabilitation project.
Sequel to this, the state government issued a seven-day ultimatum to owners of illegal trading kiosks and shanties along Lagos- Badagry and Oshodi-Abule Egba corridors to vacate the routes for a clean-up exercise aimed at reclaiming rights of way for free passage of vehicles and salvaging the aesthetics of the environment. After the elapse of the seven-day notice, the demolition started on the two major routes, affecting linear settlements obstructing free flow of traffic along the corridors. And today, kiosks are being built to replace the demolished shanties and steads.
According to Lagos State, the clean-up intervention is part of implementation of the Executive Order declaring zero tolerance for traffic management, public works and indiscriminate dumping of refuse, which was signed by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on May 30, 2019.
Permanent Secretary, state Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Taiwo Salaam and Chairman of the state Task Force, Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP, Olayinka Egbeyemi, led the enforcement team which commenced exercise from Eric-Moore Orile-Iganmu, area of Apapa. Salaami, who addressed the media, explained that the state government had earlier issued a notice of ‘Removal Order’ to all owners of illegal structures which include; shanties, Kiosks and makeshift shops along Okokomaiko to Badagry and Iba-LASU road on the need to immediately relocate as taskforce had been mobilized to embark on demolition exercise of such structures.
On notice of ‘Removal Order,’ he said; “The Governor was touched by the discomfort being experienced on a daily basis along the axis as a result of these bad roads and vowed to ameliorate the sufferings of residents, commuters plying the Okokomaiko to Badagry Expressway by rehabilitating the road.
“Therefore, we have to embark on general demolition exercise of all the shanties, kiosks and makeshift shops within these areas starting from today, Tuesday.” Egbeyemi stated that criminals seized the opportunity to hide in some of the kiosks and shanties to carry out their nefarious acts, especially at night, hence, the need to clear the structures with immediate effect. “There were several complaints and reports of armed banditry along the axis where motorists and commuters were being attacked and dispossessed of their valuables, as well as maimed in the process,” he added.
Ologbondiyan: Yahaya Bello should be ready to vacate govt House
National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Kola Ologbondiyan is confident the party will win the November 16 governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states. Ologbondiyan who spoke in an interview, advised Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello to begin to prepare his handover note, reports ONYEKACHI EZE
Recently, a group known as PDP South Youth Vanguard, accused PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus of interference in Bayelsa governorship primary. What do you have to say about this?
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is very procedural and we won’t allow the party to be stampeded into taking actions that will negate the principles of our party as a democratic party.
Therefore, the process is on and the party has not reached any conclusion in respect to issues raised concerning those elected into office, either as chairman or councilors in Bayelsa State. The party is still holding meetings with respect to this.
It is absolutely misplaced for anybody or any group of people, to come together and say that the party has taken a decision and also make allegations that the National Chairman had played a role in whatever form in that process. We have constituted committees to go and conduct the three ad hoc delegates’ election. And I can clearly say that the governors who chair those committees, to the best of their ability were wonderful in their performances. As such other processes will follow.
Also, the party has a channel where there are grievances, there are channels that members and aspirants can explore when there are grievances. We have the appeal committee at every level of our internal democracy. So if there are issues or grievances, the aspirants or members should recourse to the appeal panels rather than coming out to make frivolous allegations.
Are you insinuating or suspecting that the agitation was being sponsored by any of the aspirants?
We run a political party that is very democratic and that is open, that is transparent, that is clear in its content and decisions. And as such we do not envisage that any member of our party or any aspirants on the platform of our party will instigate internal crisis in our party. We do not know whether this people were being sponsored or they acted on their own. Our position is that PDP has not taken an form of decision in respect of that issue, and it is totally and absolutely incorrect for any person or group of persons to make allusions to the character of National Chairman of our great party.
Why is it that the National Chairman was accused of trying to influence the primary in Bayelsa State alone and not in Kogi State. Do you think that there is more to it than meets the eyes?
Am telling you that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Working Committee, have not reached any decision in respect of that issue. People who are making these suggestions, as far as the party is concerned, are acting on rumours, not on the things that have happened in our party. That is the point I want to make clear. You cannot make allusions and allegations against the person of the National Chairman, whereas the party has not reached a conclusion on the issue. It is misplaced, it is wrong.
In the last general elections, APC won a senatorial seat, and about two House of Assembly seats in Bayelsa State. This is a state that was considered a PDP stronghold, and even produced the president of the country. Now APC thinks that it can take the state from PDP. And from what we are hearing, the house is divided in Bayelsa State. Don’t you think this is a serious threat to PDP?
Bayelsa State is a traditional home of the PDP. As a matter of fact if there is anything today, we, as a party call on Governor Yahaya Bello to begin to write his handover note in Kogi State because even Kogi State was a traditional home of the PDP.
On the issue of Bayelsa, the state is a traditional home of the PDP. We are in democracy so APC has right to run an election, but there is no way that the people seeing what is happening in Nigeria today across states and in Abuja, looking at the massive failure of the APC and its government, seeing the way they have reduced Nigerians to beggars, will now begin to gravitate towards APC. Bayesians will not do that.
Where we have issues internally as a party, we can assure our members and the entire Nigerians we will ensure that democratically such issues are resolved. However, we will rather advise APC not to waste Nigeria tradermoni in Bayelsa State under the guise of empowerment, because it is a no-go area.
Has there be any petition by any of the aspirants with regard to these issues?
There were petitions but these petitions will go to the Appeal Committee. For us in the National Working Committee, it is the report of the Appeal Committee that will come to us. And it is on the account of that the National Working Committee will act. So if the report of the Appeal Committee has not come to us, how can anybody make allegations against the person of the National Chairman or against the National Working Committee?
Recently, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Cross River State resigned and joined the governorship race in Bayelsa State. Your party has reacted to this. Does he not have the right to aspire to political position?
He did not just resign but he resigned within the premises of INEC, and that tells you the story: that he is a member of APC, that the APC and Buhari presidency, placed their members in the respective INEC offices to write the results for them. Otherwise, how could an umpire, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, right within the confines of the premises of INEC make a partisan declaration of being a member of the ruling party. That tells you the direction of what PDP has being saying, that APC manipulated the 2019 presidential election.
PDP in Kogi State appears to be in disarray. The two former governors, Ibrahim Wada and Ibrahim Idris seem not to be working together. Don’t you think this might affect the party’s chances in the election?
In Kogi State, the PDP will remove Yahaya Bello as a united political party. There are no divisions in the PDP Kogi State. What is happening is a normal democratic order, where interests contend. It is normal. So there is no difference in the area that those who are making these vicious allegations are suspected. Whoever the members of PDP in Kogi elects as their candidate in governorship election will surely defeat democratically, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State. So the people have been energized in Kogi State.
They have seen suicide, they have seen sufferings, they have seen non-payment of salaries, they have seen a government that works for four years and yet they have no single project. They have seen looting, and as such the people themselves are ready to vote out Governor Yahaya Bello. And from what is happening in their party, you don’t need soothsayer to tell you that the APC is in disarray. Or do you need any soothsayer to tell you that just as Governor Bello was imposed on APC in 2015, they are trying to do another imposition. And as such, the people of Kogi State are prepared, they are ready to vote out Yahaya Bello and the APC.
Are you not worried that they might use federal might to rig the election?
Federal might! Was there no federal might in Adamawa and in Bauchi states during the last election?
Why did the party dissolve the exco in Kogi State to create a level playing ground but failed to do so in Bayelsa?
In Kogi State, it is not dissolution per se, it was that the life of the then exco has come to an end, and there was the need to elect a new exco. That was what happened; it wasn’t dissolved to create a level playing ground.
Former PDP National Chairman, Ahmadu Ali has not been participating in party activities in Kogi State. Is it an indication that all is not well in PDP in the state?
For outsiders who do not understand the character of Kogi people, this could mean something. The people of Kogi State are already fed up with Yahaya Bello. We are talking about a governor who couldn’t pay pension in many years. Some of our parents in Kogi State are being owned to the tune of 39 months pension.
As we speak, there are arrears of salaries that have not been touched, people have been sacked for no just reasons from their places of work, the economy of the state have nosedive because civil servants who are supposed to ginger the economy of the state are not paid. So the people are just waiting for who to rescue them. And the PDP will provide a better alternative to Yahaya Bello.
Naturally the people of Kogi State will vote for PDP. The party is intact and we are all working towards a singular purpose of putting an end to the maladministration and the misrule of governor Yahaya Bello.
And Kogi people, for your information, cannot be bought with money. They are not goods on the shelves that Governor Yahaya Bello will just wake up and say ‘if I pay this amount I will win.’ Don’t also forget that Kogi State has history of changing their governors at their convenience.
In 2003 the late Prince Abubakar Audu was voted out of office because of non-payment of salaries. We are talking of a people whose culture is civil service. And you are owing them salaryies? That is the same reason Prince Abubakar Audu was removed from office. So the people of Kogi State have natural way of determining who has done well or who has failed them and they will naturally replace anyone who has failed them.
So what you are saying that the Federal Government should not waste money in vote-buying?
Democracy can only thrive in an environment where peaceful conduction of election is allowed. So what we are saying is that the INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has the ample opportunity to cleanse his image with Bayelsa and Kogi elections. We expect him as a party to conduct an election that will be clean, clear, credible and that will be generally acceptable to majority of Nigerians. Anything outside of that, he will further not only diminish the INEC chairman but that institution.
So you are confident that PDP will win the elections?
In any free and fair election, PDP will win, there is no argument about this because they are traditional PDP states.
Eulogies as Madam Ngochindo is laid to rest in Rivers
Eulogies and tears flowed freely recently as residents of Ogale, in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State, mourned the demise of Madam Evelyn A-ye Ngochindo at age 86.
The sympathizers and mourners said her death touched them because Madam Evelyn Ngochindo was like a benefactor by her motherly attentiveness and readiness to offer her counsel whenever the need arose. The Dean Emeritus, Archbishop Niger Delta Province, His Grace, Most Rev. I. C. O. Kattey, who spoke at the funeral, described Madam Ngochindo as a woman who dedicated her life to God while she was alive.
“I knew her in the 70s when she gave her life to Christ. And since then, she has been dedicated to God.” Also, one of her daughters, Rev. (Mrs.) Ntobari Y. Kattey, described her as a “strong woman” who sacrificed a lot for her children to attain their current status in the society, while the deceased’s son, James Epobari Ngochindo said he missed “a very hardworking and industrious mother.” He added: “Mama you welcomed everyone who came in contact with you with an open heart and also took them like your own.”
One of her in-laws, Archbishop (Dr.) Moses O. Kattey, fondly remembered her for being part of the Scripture Union for Bible studies decades ago after accepting Jesus as her Lord and Saviour. Kattey recalls that it was a period when women of her age rarely participated in such event.
“She showed our wives how to be faithful and committed to the things of God. And I must say that displayed strong commitment in her duties as a Christian in Seven Days Adventist Church,” he said.
For those she left behind, especially including her children, grand-children and great grandchildren, she exemplified love as a firm believer in benevolence, and the huge role the family plays in realizing goals of members, Madam Evelyn helped build a formidable family founded on love, unity and respect for others. For several others, including neighbours, and her peers, she stood out as a pillar who strengthened the faith of many in God in trying times.
Some of them said that she always had time to spare for others on issues bothering them. Born on April 20, 1933 to the family of late Nkpala Nkele of Ngesia and late Madam Lale- Obo Ajiwa in Oku-be Eba, also of Akajo, Eleme, she studied up to Standard 3 and got married to late Elder Victor Achi-Emereobo Ngochindo at a time the education of the girl child was not given priority.
But as a woman with a strong will to contribute meaningfully to her marriage, she learnt how to read, write and interpret the Bible and became an Adventist. Years later, Mama started several successful businesses, which she used in supporting the family. Blessed with eight children, she is survived by four, a man and three women, whom she instilled discipline into, especially the need to be humble, treat people with re
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