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Inside Abuja

Petty trader wins scholarship lottery for kids



Petty trader wins scholarship lottery for kids

Some students in secondary and tertiary institutions recently won scholarships to enable them pay their school fees and carry out their school projects with ease. REGINA OTOKPA reports


The desire of parents is to see their children succeed in their educational pursuits, gain employment and take good care of them when they grow old. One of the few ways of achieving such feats is by ensuring they have access to certain basic things of life including quality education.
Unfortunately, the poor economy and government policies have not favoured a lot of families whose children have either been forced to drop out of school at some point in their education, or have not been privileged to even step into a classroom due to lean financial resources.
Inside Abuja checks revealed that while majority of families caught in this crossroad are pained to see their children leave school and resort to menial jobs including hawking to support their parents put food on the table, only a few go the extra mile to ensure these children obtain basic education.
For decades, Nigeria’s figure of out-of-school-children has been the highest in the world dancing around 13 million to 10.1 million.
About two months ago, former Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu , had in a valedictory briefing, apologised to Nigerians for his inability to reduce the figure by half.
Adamu noted that he was always ashamed whenever the issue of out of school children was raised at high level meetings outside the country.
As sad as the situation is, the present economic realities on ground is not making it any better, as more students from primary, secondary schools and tertiary institutions are dropping out due to inability of their parents to meet up with the educational requirements.
Inside Abuja caught up with Mr. Ugwu Ernest, whose two children were forced to drop out of school while in JSS3 and SS1 respectively. Ernest, a petty trader, in Kaduna State and father of five, said both children had to drop out of school two years ago because he could no longer meet up with the financial needs of their education.
But recently, the hope of having both students back in school was restored to the family as Ernest emerged winner of the SchoolMe Scholarship Lottery in Abuja.
Beaming with smiles, he told Inside Abuja that when he played the lottery from Kaduna through one of the agents in Abuja, little did he know he was going to win the star prize of N700,000.
“Two of my children stopped school two years ago because there was no money for them to continue going to school. I am happy I won this N700, 000. Now, they will be able to go back to school,” he said.
Even though, four other winners didn’t get as much as N700, 000, they were equally grateful for participating in the lottery. Emmanuel Mercy, Happiness Felix and Rosemary Eze all won N100, 000 each while Yusuf Sanni went home with N200, 000. The money is strictly to assist them in paying school fees and offsetting expenses for final year projects as the case may be.
An excited Happiness Felix noted that the cost of buying handouts, text books and typing plus class assignments have been cumbersome. According to her, winning the N100, 000 was a great deal to her as most of these expenses would be covered to enable her concentrate more on her studies and equally attend to other educational needs rather than worry on how and where to get financial assistance.
Speaking at the presentation of cheques to the winners of its maiden scholarship draw in Abuja, the General Manager, SchoolMe Lottery, Mr. Karrim Olusegun, noted that the social intervention programme was aimed at encouraging people to go to school, by helping students having difficulties in financing their education.
Olusegun lamented that although a lot of young persons aspire to be in school, there is a high deficit in the education sector and it is responsible for the increasing rate of youths who were embracing social vices and being used as tools by politicians to perpetrate violence against the citizenry. These anti-social behaviours have disrupted what he described as the “whole essence of our living as individuals and as Nigerians.”
According to him, the organisation has used the programme to rescue many youths from the streets, and helped students having financial troubles to concentrate more on their studies.
“Majority of those who have been in this programme with us have won on several occasions and have been able to stay put in school and see their dreams come to pass.
“Education must be given to as many that desire to have it. It shouldn’t be just for the rich, high and mighty but for as many that desire it,” he said.
Head of Operations of the organisation, Mr. Nsikan Ekaette, noted that SchoolMe has assisted many students in tertiary institutions in their educational pursuits, and also helped candidates to register for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME) in different parts of the country.

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Inside Abuja

Combating disease outbreaks



Combating disease outbreaks

The 4th NCDC/NFELTP annual scientific conference was held recently to engage  critical thinking and discussions on how to drive the future of applied epidemiology in the face of old and emerging disease outbreaks. REGINA OTOKPA reports


Infectious diseases threats have been proven not to be constant; they keep changing and viruses keep spreading.  As such, the need for a continuous research to better understand the changing dynamics of diseases cannot be over emphasized.

This is one of the major reasons why the Nigeria Centre  for Disease Control (NCDC), organised  the annual conference as a platform to engage public health officials and epidemiologist from across the globe to share new acquired knowledge. The conference also provided an opportunity to share new scientific methods, experiences, failures, success stories and lessons learnt, with a view to learning something new and  driving precise public health decisions.

Alongside the Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme (NFELTP), this year’s Conference, with the theme, ‘Applied Epidemiology: Providing Evidence for Public Health Action’,  was centred on 11 main themes including outbreak investigation, emergency preparedness and response, vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization strategies, surveillance and information management systems, neglected tropical diseases, malaria and other vector-borne diseases, risk communication, and public health systems strengthening.

The various speakers harped on the importance of field epidemiologists in confronting the daunting challenge of disease outbreaks and other public health threats at the local, state and federal levels

Field epidemiologists as health professionals, work at the forefront of disease surveillance, response, and control. They are often the backbone of disease control during outbreaks of infectious diseases in any country.

Nigeria has been suffering what the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, described as “large annual outbreaks of Lassa fever, cholera, measles as well as clusters of cases of yellow fever, meningitis and monkeypox,” in various places, due to the changing environment and population dynamics.

But with the work of the NCDC, there is an  improved capability to detect infectious cases.

Highlighting some of the Centre’s success stories, the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olurunnimbe Mamora, noted that “during the 2014-2016 Ebola pandemic, apart from curtailing the spread locally, NCDC’s technical staff and NFELTP-trained field epidemiologists also supported other affected West African countries to successfully control the pandemic. Also, the program has been critical to Nigeria’s successful control of various disease outbreaks, such as cerebrospinal meningitis, Lassa fever, measles, yellow fever, cholera, and monkeypox over the years.”

He said that one way to further ride on the NCDC’s successes,  was to urgently build and consistently work on improving resilient health systems to prevent, prepare, detect, respond to and control these infectious disease outbreaks.

Stressing on the need to embrace applied epidemiology, which has become a critical function for public health action, Mamora told INSIDE ABUJA that “field epidemiologists, laboratory scientists, managing physicians and nurses, programme managers and all health workers  form a critical part of a resilient health system.”

But these are not the only diseases receiving attention at the moment. 

Director-General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, who revealed that the agency had commenced the developing of surveillance guidelines for anthrax and brucellosis with support from Global Implementation Solutions, described both conditions as “two important zoonotic diseases.”

INSIDE ABUJA checks revealed that majority of work presented during the conference,  would end up as major review publications which will regrow and create something new.

In order to live up to its vision as a science driven agency, Ihekweazu disclosed that about 20 graduates of the advanced learning programme were already working within the NCDC.

The Nigerian field epidemiology programme, now in its 11th year, has over 300 graduates.

However, surveillance at entry points remains a very crucial issue in controlling disease outbreaks in Africa. Even though the Africa Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), through its Regional Technical Coordinator and Senior Resident Advisor, Dr. Patrick Nguku, has pledged continued assistance to the Ministries of Health in Africa to build stronger, more effective and sustainable programmes, the body has urged African governments to pay more attention to disease surveillance at airports and all other entry points in and out of  their countries.

Another important call for action this time from the United States Center for Disease Control, is the establishment of a standard health institution where field epidemiologists can be trained in order to strengthen  health security.

An official of the centre, Bolu Omotayo, who made the call, advised the Federal Government to make available, both material and human resources for disease control, added to always being prepared to tackle disease outbreaks within the country and at the borders.

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Inside Abuja

Recognising women in humanitarian response



Recognising women in humanitarian response

The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Christian Aid Nigeria  and several women groups recently launched Women in Humanitarian Response in Nigeria Initiative in Abuja. DEBORAH OCHENI reports


The humanitarian crisis that has engulfed Nigeria, especially the North-East and North Central regions in the last decade has left about 7.1 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. The most affected and vulnerable are women and children. This is in addition to the existing unequal power dynamics and exclusion that continue to play out against women in most communities.

Local women and women-led organizations are playing valuable roles in addressing the effects of the crisis as they bring valuable skills and assets to localized humanitarian response.

Despite the immeasurable contributions of women in humanitarian responses, they are not accorded adequate recognition and deserved support in the humanitarian architecture.

This informed the launch of  the Women in Humanitarian Response in Nigeria Initiative to  provide women led NGOs with a unique opportunity to partner and to further support the development of women humanitarians.

Convener of the event, Mimidoo Achakpa,  noted  that during and after every  crisis, people are forcibly displaced and there is extreme hardship comprising  insecurity, sexual exploitation and abuse, restricted mobility, gender based violence, hunger and livelihood disruption leading to poverty.

The impact is usually more on women and children. Girls are more likely to opt out of education, and due to lack of healthcare in humanitarian settings, women’s health and reproductive health needs are impacted.

“Women over time, have stepped in to alleviate some of these hardships by playing very important roles as responders during crises situations, usually through unpaid work for their families, communities and humanitarian settings.

“They put their lives at risk in extreme circumstances and most times, at personal as well as individual organizational levels. These contributions are not accorded adequate recognition and given deserved support in the humanitarian architecture. Therefore, a key means of involving women in ways that potentially allow them to set the agenda for humanitarian response is for international responders to work in partnership with local women’s organizations,” she said.

Achapa  explained  that  during crisis,  the power relations that operate between international agencies with relatively high levels of resources  and authority on local organizations, can so often lead to a sense of ‘unequal partnership’, and to mission drift for the local organization during the crisis.  She said that in spite of this inequality,  local women’s organization can provide invaluable expert insights into the needs and priorities of women in the area which can at best, lead to effective short-term response that empowers women into the longer term, enabling genuine transformation.

“To ensure transformative change for women and girls at a point of increasingly more complex and protracted crises around the world and a global backlash against women’s rights, we need to ensure that local women’s organizations receive recognition and financial support to exert leadership and provide expertise across the humanitarian-development-peace nexus ” she said.

Executive Director of Christian Aid Worldwide, Amanda Mukwashi, stressed that when disaster and conflict hit, the people who bear the brunt of it are women and children.

“When they are fleeing, it is the women who have to carry the children. When  others are sick in the community, it is the women who respond. When food has to be shared, it is the women that share it. When  there is no shelter, it is the women that protect the children. Hence, a lot of positive things happen when you have a woman in position;” she said.

She narrated  her  experiences during a visit to IDPs in Maiduguri, stating that the Internally Displaced Persons she met in Maiduguri were not strangers.

“I probably may not know their names but they look like me. It is just that I am polished. They are women like me; they need dignity, they need their wellbeing taken care of and they need respect like me. The temporary shelter they live in collapses when it rains heavily; the children are not in school.

“One thing I realized while talking to the IDPs in Maiduguri is that, if our solution in Maiduguri are going to be sustainable, if we are going to build the livelihood and resilience of those communities, those women cannot be seen only as passive victims and recipient of solution.

“Those women need to come into the decision making space; they need to come into the conversation; they need to tell those in power that the solution is not working for them because they know what their issues are since they live in it.

“For us as Christian Aids, localization is not just about funding, or capacity building but it’s about recognition that all human being were created equal. We need to work for those that are affected. They need funding, they need capacity building in terms of skills and information, tools that they can use to engage with other women. Localization is about respect,” she stressed.

Ambassador of Belgium to Nigeria, represented by Paul Dasinmi, appreciated the organizers of the event, adding that it would go a long way in charting a   course in women participation at developing a nation, especially in Nigeria.

Similarly, wife of the Benue State governor, Eunice Ortom, represented by Elizabeth Jeiyol, bemoaned that the central states and Benue State particularly, are challenged by herdsmen invasion and attacks on farming communities which has led to humanitarian crisis in the state.

She said that due to the shallow nature of the River Benue,  many parts of the state become flooded at the height of the rainy season, especially with the release of waters by the Cameroonian authorities.  These  and other pockets of internal issues have added to  the humanitarian needs.

“There are 483, 692 displaced persons in Benue State at the moment of which, women and children constitute over 280, 500 representing nearly 60 per cent of the total population of displaced persons. The objective of this initiative which includes, to promote security, gender mainstreaming and access to justice for women and children in humanitarian crisis situation are timeliest. There is a need for women to come together and forge strong partnership in humanitarian work,”  she said.

Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Dame Pauline Tallen, admitted that, notwithstanding the inadequate recognition accorded to womanhood in Nigeria, it was disheartening to note that incidences of gender based violence (GBV) is exacerbated by weak legislation and enforcement mechanisms, lack of effective programming of GBV and the inefficient handling of GBV issues by security personnel and other actors in the field.

These abuses, if unchecked, she said, could inflict deep psychological scars and damage the health of women and girls in general including their reproductive and sexual health and in some instances, results in death. According to her, violence against women has  the most pervasive yet least recognized human rights abuse in the world.

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Inside Abuja

A call for fitness, healthy living



A call for fitness, healthy living

The World Health Organisation (WHO), last Saturday, drew out over 6,000 residents of Abuja, to take part in the second edition of its annual exercise and healthy living programme tagged: Health For All Challenge: Walk the Talk. REGINA OTOKPA was there


Every morning, between 5:30am to 7.00am, you find men, women and youths jogging or taking a walk along the streets of Abuja.  These excludes those in the formal  gymnasiums, doing regular  work out sessions,  either once a day or both morning and evenings.

Saturdays however, are more intense; some of the highways, streets, paedestrian bridges, fields, empty spaces, all indoor and outdoor gymnasiums witness a lot of activities. The traffic is from people working out either to shed off some weight or just to stay healthy. Majority of persons who know the importance of regular exercises have already made it a routine.

As part of its commitment to a Universal Health for all, the WHO, led by its Officer in Charge (OIC), Dr. Clement Peters, led about 6,500 residents of Abuja for a walk and run  within the Central Business District, and a dance aerobics session at the Millennium Park.

Also in attendance were the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Edward Kallon; the President, Wellbeing Foundation Africa, Toyin Saraki; officials from the Federal Ministry of Health, and its counterpart, Ministry of Youths and Sports.

Peters, who was excited about the success of the second edition, is already looking forward to reviewing the annual event to a monthly one. He told INSIDE ABUJA that “participation from the government and UN agencies, participation from the public is very high. We have achieved a lot.

“What we need to do is to make sure we sustain this walk to be something we can do every month, to come together and walk. This will help us deliver health care in the country.”

On her part, the President Wellbeing Foundation Africa, Toyin Saraki, who usually looks forward to learning new dance steps during the dance aerobic sessions, maintained that engaging in regular and routine exercises would go a long way in curbing a good number of non-communicable diseases, which were claiming Nigerians in their numbers.

Saraki, who as usual was fully kitted for the day, said that this year’s walk the talk was “an extremely successful edition. Last year we had over 4,000 persons walk, run and carry out some few exercises. This  year, I think we have about 6,500 persons.

“The challenge is to make everybody aware of the benefits of regular exercises to their health. We advise that everybody should walk at least 35 minutes, three times a week.

“It curbs diabetes. It curbs heart disease. It  curbs obesity and it just generally makes you feel much better. The health for all challenge aims at universal health coverage for all citizens as soon as we can but we have a deadline of 2030.

“This means affordable quality care that people can afford so that when they fall ill, it doesn’t plunge them into misery. I am delighted to support Dr. Tedros’s mission in the walk the talk challenge; this has gone across the world. I hope Nigeria is the biggest but next year we will do even better than this”  she said.

Speaking to INSIDE ABUJA, a Gym owner in Kubwa, a suburb in Abuja, Kelvin Ndubisi, who has over 70 persons registered at his gym, raised concerns on the misconceptions surrounding workouts. According to him, regular exercises should be everybody’s priority, not for shedding off weight or burning out calories, but for keeping fit.

“Majority of people have this notion that gyms, workouts are basically for the fat who wants to trim down. That  is absolutely untrue. There are lots of slim teas and diets flying around if that is the case.

“Yes, regular physical activities burns off fat but most importantly, it improves health, keeps you immune from various non- communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disorder and diabetes. It  can even correct some abnormalities not gotten from birth to mention but a few,” he said.

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Inside Abuja

Towards commitment to national service, self-employment



A fortnight ago, the permanent orientation camp of  the National Youths Service Corps in  Kubwa, Bwari Area Council of the  Federal Capital Territory  ( FCT) witnessed a unique passing out parade with lessons for the corps members. CALEB ONWE reports


What was designed to be a  closing ceremony of the 2019 Batch B Stream 2 Orientation Course for the Youths Corps members, turned into a ‘ recharging ‘ session to both the  corps members and other people at the event.

Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory  ( FCT ) Dr. Ramatu Tijani Aliyu, who mounted the dais  to  take  the salute from the seemingly exuberant youths during the parade, also dished out some words of admonition.

Her presence at  the Orientation Camp was for an official function, but her demeanour showed some nostalgic appreciation of her yester-years experiences during the compulsory  one-year national service.

Watching the   Minister in a  temporary activated military mode, as required by the occasion, it may be difficult  linking  her with any  military training but one thing that was conspicuously available,  was her comportment and dedication.

After the ritual of salute taking, closely and keenly observed by some regimented security personnel, and other dignitaries,  the military mode was deactivated, giving way to a motherly voice that vibrated throughout the Camp.

Her voice even resonated stronger when she warned the youth to avoid  the illusion of finding a ready-made job after their national service.

She told the youth  that the easiest way to escape the scorching heat of the over saturated labour market, was to  have  entrepreneurial skills.

The Federal Government,  she said, has created  several windows of opportunity  for young  entrepreneurs, who may want to create wealth for generational empowerment.

Like a typical mother, who desires a bright future for her children, she wittingly urged  youths to consider the  option of channelling their energy and acquired knowledge and skills to creating employment,  not just for themselves,  but for others.

According to her, the Nigerian youth could escape the scourge of unemployment and create wealth, if only they make use of the skills acquired during the service year.

Aliyu noted that the corps members have been equipped with prerequisite knowledge through skills entrepreneurship development training to enable them  become not only self-employed, but also employers of labour.

The minister also assured corps members that the FCT Administration would do all it could within the available resources to complement the efforts of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

From the tone of her voice, she appeared to be more favourably disposed to the idea of youths becoming self reliant and gainfully employed in their enterprises.

However, she pledged that her office would  support in the area of corps welfare, while they strive to find their entrepreneurial bearing.

Having spoken passionately about job creation, self-reliance, and how youths could live meaningful lives and contribute vibrantly to nation building, it was now time to inculcate security consciousness into them.

Aliyu, apparently not a novice to the pains of child bearing and the traumatic experiences parents go through at the death of their children,  warned  the corps members to be sure that safety and security rules were not undermined.

“Let me remind you of the need to be security conscious. Always remember that you are your own best security. Report any case of threat to life and property to NYSC management and security agents and do not go about looking for trouble by engaging in unwholesome practices.”

Inside Abuja’s findings showed that the warning about personal safety stemmed  from the fact that the  crime wave within the nation’s capital was assuming a disturbing dimension.

The Commissioner of Police, in charge of the Federal Capital Territory ( FCT ) Command,  Mr. Bala Ciroma, had alluded to the rising cases of  crime  in the territory.

Ciroma, who spoke recently at a Town Hall Meeting organised by FCT Chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists  ( NUJ ), also acknowledged that kidnapping, one chance robbery, ritual killing were rising  within the nation’s capital.

Inside Abuja also gathered that the admonition about security consciousness was one subject that gained a lot of  attention from the curious youths and other members of the public.

FCT Coordinator of NYSC, Walida Isa,  gave assurances  that the 2019 Batch B Stream 2 corps members would be rebranded within the context of national consciousness to prepare them to be useful tools and forces for the socio-economic development of Nigeria.

She commended development partners and FCT Area Councils for their support, just as she pledged that the directorate would not abuse the trust.

The NYSC coordinator however, tasked corps members on the relevance of teamwork, diligence and commitment as key to success, noting that success was not a “tea party”, but about hard-work and discipline.

“I charge you therefore to accept your postings as a challenge for integrity and self-mastery, and be exemplary wherever you find yourself.,” she added.

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Inside Abuja

Renewed hopes as schools reopen



Renewed hopes as schools reopen

After more than two months of holiday, public and private schools reopen for academic activities in Abuja. DEBORAH OCHENI captures the current mood


In Nigeria, both private and public schools re-open every September for a new academic session. Expectedly, the month brings an increase in family budgets as parents enrol their children in schools at the commencement of a new academic session.
Though many parents are relieved that the holiday is over, a number of them are worried about the high cost of getting their children back to school. They have to contend with fee increment, high cost of books, change of uniforms, and others. According to some parents, it is a period that comes with numerous challenges, starting from school fees to the list of books and uniforms they are expected to buy for their children.
This year is not an exception to this annual ritual as parents have been visiting bookshops and kiddies shop in search of what to buy for their children. While some parents come around to window shop, others come, ready to get the items even at exorbitant prices.
Inside Abuja interviewed some parents who expressed concerns about the high cost of basic items such as food flask, water bottle, school bags and lunch boxes. They said the prices of the original brands have risen so high and there are so many fake items in the market which are being sold at cheaper rates.
To some parents, it is time of thinking on how to do school runs and meet other demands of their families. While some parents said they were prepared for all these, others stated that poor state of the economy has been frustrating their preparations for the new school season.
Some parents expressed delight that their wards would be entering new classes but lamented the hike in prices of “back to school items”, noting that shop-owners were taking advantage of the high demand to make quick profit.
Grace Ojoma is in the camp many parents wished to be. She said she was well prepared for the resumption of the 2019/2020 academic session.
“I don’t think it is something stressful if you have it all planned out because it is a normal thing that is supposed to happen as long as you have children. I don’t like impromptu preparation. So, I prepared in advance so that it does not meet me unawares,” she said.
Funke Olushola, a mother of four children said she is happy her children are going to new classes. According to her, new class means new items. Her children will change everything they used last year to a new one regardless of the fact that they are still in same school.
“My children are still in the same school but it’s a tradition that none of them resumes fresh class with old items. What that implies is that we will change everything for the three of them. It’s not as if we I’m bragging or I have so much money but then, the children need to feel good when going to new classes,” she said.
Dora Ezekiel, a beautiful mother of two girls, who was at the Wuse market shopping for school items for her daughters said: “In as much as I try not to buy new things but you can’t help it. We are dealing with young children and as such you can’t have a perfect plan without altering it. In my own case anyway, I don’t buy everything because I don’t see any point buying what I have that is still in perfect condition. The economic reality has taught me to be wise on my expenditures”.
Joy Joseph advised that mothers should not put themselves under unnecessary pressure with trendy school bags if their children’s bags are still intact.
“New designs will always come yearly. I don’t encourage women to always buy new bags every year. Rather, they should buy a high quality bag that will serve for at least, three years before they change it. Parents should also develop maintenance culture. Let us try and make things easy for us and our husbands,” she urged.
For Gabriel Eze, a tricycle rider, it’s been sleepless night upon sleepless night since his five children vacated from school.
“I have not slept at night since school went on vacation because I still have outstanding fees of last term to pay and here is another academic session where I need to pay for books and other necessary school requirements for my five children that will be resuming on September 9, 2019. The more I try to save, the more I find myself spending it on their feeding since my wife lost her job as a result of the bad economy Nigeria is facing,” he said.
Speaking to some proprietors of private nursery and primary schools on their level of preparation for school resumption, they chorused that they were fully ready while praying that God should provide for parents to care for their children’s academic needs.
Proprietor of the Senate Academy, Kurudu FCT, Mr Mathew, said they are fully prepared to kick start the 2019/2020 academic session.
“We are fully ready to start the 2019/2020 academic session as we look forward to receiving our beautiful children back in school. I also pray that God should bless our parents, so that they can pay off their debts in order to start the new session on a clean slate because we can’t do much without money,” he said.
Some parents and private school owners have also reiterated the need for government to show commitment to the educational sector, by providing security in the schools to forestall kidnapping of pupils and teachers.
Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Dame Pauline Tallen, has urged the children to reciprocate the kind gestures of their parents by studying very hard and aiming high, so as to achieve their aspirations.
In her goodwill message to children ahead of the resumption of schools, she reminded them to be of good behaviour and be good ambassadors of their parents and families while in school.
“As you know, nothing good comes easy in life. You should aspire to excel in your studies and attain national and international recognition. We hope to see among you, future leaders, doctors, scientist, lawyers, nobel laureate and so on. This will not only bring joy to your parents but uplift the image of our nation.
“I also implore you to be obedient and respectful in line with our culture to your parents, teachers and elders in the community, watch less TV and read your books more,” she said.
Tallen however lamented that about 60 per cent of children of school age are out of school. According to her, the North East has the highest number of girls out of school of primary school age at 53.3 per cent while the South –East has the lowest number of girls out of school at 46.2 per cent. She lamented that getting out of school children back into education poses a massive challenge in the northern part of the country.
She noted also that all children deserve quality education irrespective of gender recognizing that, the girl child is a vulnerable member of the society who is confronted with several discriminatory practices from birth through childhood and into adulthood. She urged parents not to relent in their efforts in providing enabling environment for children to achieve their potentials.

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Inside Abuja

Catching them young with entrepreneurial skills



Catching them young with entrepreneurial skills

With white collar jobs no longer forthcoming, especially for those without high level connections, poverty and unemployment are driving youths down the path of crime. REGINA OTOKPA takes a dip into the growing advocacy by parents and School Based Management Committees (SBMC) to expose children to entrepreneurial skills from a tender age




-year-old Bryan Chiazor loves to get busy with his hands. Every minute, he is calculating the next step to take in order to create something unique and how to attract more patronage to his products. With his 10-year-old elder brother, George, every piece of fabric no matter how small is useful.



From the making of wristbands, they graduated into producing bags, beads, purse and presently, they are learning how to make children’s wears. George, who is gifted in graphics, has drawn more clients to his parents cloth line business with his unique designs more than they could have ever imagined.



Bryan is in primary four and George in J.SS 1 but these young brothers already have an entrepreneurial mindset that amazes everyone who comes in contact with them. The beautiful part of their story is that besides using the income they generate to meet personal needs, they are more interested in supporting other children who are not so fortunate.



Speaking to Inside Abuja, Bryan said: “We feel excited and proud whenever we sell any of our products. I love spending my time making things I can sell to people. Sometimes, we assist our parents’ business with the little money we generate. Other  times, we use our money to get what we need or what we want.


“We will like to see other children do this instead of begging on the streets.”


George explained that, “our parents are a great motivator. They said we could make use of our free time to make things that can help the world. So, we decided to try and make some of these stuffs.


“It’s important to learn these skills to teach other generations, for making money for ourselves and parents, and sometimes we help others in need.”




With so much faith in her kids, Mrs Blessing Chiazor and husband did not only figure out their children’s talents, but encouraged them towards developing those skills besides acquiring education in school.



“The whole idea is to be able to get them do something besides what they are being taught in school and I know that these kids are very good with their hands. So, we just tried to encourage them to do what they can. Again, instead of the holiday lessons to play away their time, we decided to push them into any handy thing that is available so they can become more useful in future rather than waiting to get a white collar job when they graduate,” the proud mum said.



Also working out his future from a tender age, 15-year-old Usman Abdulazeez, with the wise counsel of his mum, is today a Chief Executive Officer. Seeing a lot of unemployed graduates roaming the streets and the desire to be financially independent inspired him to start up a food business.



In a chat with Inside Abuja, Abdulazeez explained that, “learning these skills besides what I am being taught in school will push me further because those things we learn in school are not going to help us in the real world like relating with people and knowing how to do certain things.



“School in Nigeria is boring; our curriculum is limited but when you see other schools in different countries on YouTube, you realise that your school is really not doing anything to encourage you towards what you want to do in future.



“Every child should acquire skills. It will expand their way of thinking, put them ahead of their peers and help in other aspects of their life.”


Proffering a word of advice to the Government, the young CEO called for the establishment of skill acquisition centres and the inclusion of entrepreneurial studies into the primary school curriculum to expose children to basic skills including sewing, engineering, software development and designs.



“It should be made compulsory for all students because these skills can help them in the future. No matter what, don’t depend on your parents if you want to make money in the future,” he said.



The holidays have come and gone; while most children spent the last six weeks attending holiday lessons, some were acquiring skills, others played out the whole weeks while those who already have skills like the Chiazor brothers; George and Bryan who aspire to be a scientist and an artiste respectively and Abdulazeez who wants to go into renewable energy, devoted more time horning their skills and creating more meaningful outputs in their various businesses.



Every child, whether rich or poor, living in the urban or rural area, has a right to basic education. Sadly, a good number of children, especially  in Northern Nigeria, are out of school. To help complement efforts of the Federal Government to reduce the massive number of over 10 million children without access to education, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) through the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), has carried out several interventions, which has resulted in a massive enrollment increase in several schools across the north.



One of such intervention is the all inclusive School Based Management Committee (SBMC) scheme, whose membership cut across community and religious leaders, artisans, an association of mothers and high level women, students, youths and men who are passionate about seeing an improvement in the teaching and learning of children within their communities.



It is on record that the SBMC scheme has continued to witness a positive impact but one thing that has continued to bother the committee is the rate of unemployment in the country and to worsen their situation, majority of graduates do not have a skill to fall back on.



As a result, a good number find themselves in crime, contributing to the social problems the country is currently grappling with.



Speaking to Inside Abuja at a DFID sponsored media dialogue, the chairman SBMC Zamfara State,  Abubakar Dogo, said the solution to what he described as a “swell of unemployed youths” is the exposure of primary and secondary school students, especially those in the North, to entrepreneurial skills.



He argued that since western education was making students not learn the traditional skills mostly handed down from generation to generation, the SBMC are advocating for the introduction of entrepreneurial skills in basic education curriculum to enable students grow up with skills that can help them have a means of livelihood whether they are fortunate to get a white collar job or not.


“Instead of entrepreneurial studies in the universities, the best thing to do is to start early, catch them young, give your children skills at a very early age, so that they can grow into it and have what to do. That is what many countries do and you find out that by the time they get to the university, they are many things such as carpenters, electricians, plumbers, designers to help them earn a living.



“Education is all about life. It’s about living. You don’t just read and be literate and hold your certificate. It doesn’t make you live. Our children should be able to figure out what they can do to earn a living.



“That is why the SBMC is advocating give your child a skill; that will save us from the problem of unemployment otherwise there will continue to be a vicious circle. We’ll continue to do the same thing-produce more unemployable graduates and we will be in trouble because the population is growing, the number of graduates are growing; the numbers of universities are multiplying but we are on the same spot. That is the problem.



“The SBMCs are seriously advocating for this in our schools because one of the problems of western education is that it disorients the youths; they don’t learn the traditional skills and they end up not learning the new technological or entrepreneurial skills. So, when they finish the university, they can’t go back to the traditional skills. If their parents are blacksmiths, shoemakers, barbers or whatever they are,  they don’t like that one but they have not acquired anything new to live on.



“Make sure your children are growing into something they can rely on to make a living. Otherwise, you are in trouble. Crimes, violence will follow it because young people are frustrated,” he advised

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Inside Abuja

‘My near death experience in the hands of one chance robbers’



‘My near death experience in the hands of  one chance robbers’

Many residents of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, have  fallen prey  to the   activities of  “One Chance” robbers, who operate using taxi cabs. CALEB ONWE reports on a recent incident


Saturday, August  24, 2019, was a blessed day to many people, but to Chief Jude Eze, it was a day that has left him with so  much unpalatable memories. It was a date that his wife and children nearly lost their bread winner and benefactor to some mindless and cruel men of the underworld.

The entire family could have been left in  great pains and inconsolable hearts but for divine intervention.

Eze, who   is now left with a swollen mouth and eyes, is still having   speech difficulty  as a result of the torture he underwent during his encounter with the robbers.  However, he managed to organize his thoughts when Inside Abuja crew bumped into his house in Jahi village, one of the squatter settlements in Abuja Municipal Area Council, Federal Capital Territory.

He said he went out on that fateful day in a high spirit to his place of work, without any premonition that he was going to meet any misfortune until the unfortunate drama began in the taxi cab.

According to Eze,  he left his office  at the close of work and headed home as usual but experienced some delays because  of  the scarcity of vehicles at the bus terminal.

In line with his daily routine, he  had to trek from Utako to Berger Roundabout to catch a taxi to Dutse in Bwari Area Council. However, on this fateful day, the journey plans were not  as seamless as expected, due to the fact that  several commuters  were stranded at bus stop.

When he eventually boarded one of the  painted taxis that came his way, he thought  he was home and dry but it turned out that he had fallen into a trap set by a  criminal gang.

As at the time he entered the taxi, there were three men, including the driver  already seated inside. He thought he was the third passenger as the car zoomed off, with the driver still waving for more passengers to come on board.

As no other person came to join them, the journey continued, but in less than five minutes, the man closest to him inside the car shifted suspiciously towards him. The shifting was done in a manner that Eze could not hold his peace, but questioned the move which  earned him an instant slap.

It signalled the beginning of a horrible experience that lasted for hours. Eze narrates the ordeal thus:  “It was a week today, that was last Saturday that I closed from work and went to  Berger junction to get a taxi back home. Unfortunately, the car I entered which already had three passengers with the driver, I didn’t know  that they were robbers.

“It was not long after the car left that spot, that the people I thought were my fellow passengers started some strange behaviours, and before I could start suspecting, they have descended on me,  hitting me from all sides.

“The driver was driving with one hand and was using the second hand to hit me. The  other three men were also hitting and slapping me on my head and face. The Mazda car was what they used.   When they  closed the car windows , I noticed the car windscreen was tinted. They were also playing music very loud in the car, that even if I had shouted, nobody would have heard my voice. The more I tried to raise my head up to know the direction I was being driven to by the robbers, the more they hit my face and head.

“The beating continued to the extent that I lost stamina and finally my consciousness, but before I completely lost consciousness, I remembered they asked me to give them my ATM card, which I surrendered without argument.

“I however, gave them the wrong password, which earned me more beatings, as I could not bear the pains coupled with blood that was already gushing out of my mouth, nose and eyes, I quickly called the right password for them.

“ By this time, they had also collected my phone and ordered me never to raise my head up in the car where I was held hostage by the men who were showing me gun and dagger at intervals.

“We got to a point and they threatened to kill me if they tried the password I gave them for my ATM card and it refuses to work.

“This drama continued with the abductors conversing without my contribution but I was following their discussion, since I understood the Igbo language they were speaking. I was however, forced to speak when I overheard them saying that it was time to waste me.

“All this while, all their conversation was in Igbo language. I only spoke up when I heard them talking about killing me. It was at that point that I quickly pleaded that they should not kill me, not push me out while the car was in motion.

“When they heard me speak Igbo language, they said, “so you are Igbo and you were fucking up all this while,   bear with us, we are doing this because the country is tough”.

“They reluctantly slowed down at a point and allowed me to go. I heard them say, drop him, let us go and look for a better victim. When I got down from the car, blood was still gushing out from my nostril, eyes and mouth. I managed to ask somebody to tell me where I was, and the “I tried severally to get a taxi that will take me to Jahi village where I live, but could not, because each driver that stopped where I was standing with my bleeding, they will zoomed off, saying I was a criminal.

“I managed to get a keke driver who pitied my condition and took me to a junction where I collected money from an Okada rider to pay him. After which, I boarded the Okada to my house. When I got home, my family members could not recognize me, because by then, my face had swollen up with my eyes covered.”

Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police,  Federal Capital Territory, Mr  Bala Ciroma, has admitted that the menace of ‘ one chance ‘ robbers  has become  one of the major sources of insecurity in the nation’s capital.

Ciroma said that the FCT Command of the Nigeria Police Force was aware of the frequent incedents of the “One Chance” robbers and  warned  residents of Abuja to be security conscious as the criminals were on the prowl.

The FCT Police boss, who spoke  at a Town Hall Meeting, organized by FCT chapter of Nigerian Union Journalists to address the challenges of insecurity, said the one chance robbery syndicates usually operated in unpainted taxi cabs.

Ciroma  stated that the police had identified both the  hideouts  of these criminals and their operational methods and was working hard  to flush them out  of the city.

He urged residents to cooperate with all security agencies in finding a lasting solution to the menace of  “one chance” robbers as well as other crimes.

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Inside Abuja

Rewarding selflessness, empowering less privileged



Rewarding selflessness, empowering less privileged

The Unity Fountain, the popular village square in the heart of Abuja, recently played host to a multitude of personalities, including physically challenged persons, as a group, Juremi Foundation, honoured some security, paramilitary personnel and fallen heroes for their meritorious service. REGINA OTOKPA  reports



Be it under the scorching sun or heavy  rain, every day is a beautiful day for Sergeant Selbol Audu, the famous dancing traffic warden at Rita Lori Junction, in Garki 2. He adds grace and flavour while controlling traffic and directing vehicles with his smooth, effortless and unique dance moves.

A father of three and an indigene of Plateau State, Audu started the journey of a traffic warden 27 years ago as a constable with the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), after his dreams of becoming a lawyer was shattered with the sudden death of his parents.

With a selfless spirit, he continued to devote his time and energy to his job, not minding the poor attitude of some Nigerians, who sometimes spit at him or talk down at him in the course of his duty. No little wonder, he has been gaining lots of recognition for himself including five awards from the House of Representatives, notable schools in the FCT and from other organisations.

Few days ago, Juremi foundation added another feather to his cap when he was singled out alongside few other men and women of the Nigerian police force and paramilitary, to recognise and show appreciation for a job well-done in their different capacities.

An excited Audu, who spoke to Inside Abuja, said his dream of projecting his image around the country has been fulfilled with the series of awards he has received. “Initially, I wanted to become a lawyer. I sat for IJMBE. I got admission but my parents died immediately. So, I decided since the Nigerian police which was part of the laws but I did not join the conventional police. I want to be a traffic warden who works in the city where I will get to know people and people will know me.

“This is the fifth time I will be honoured. I have served for almost 27 years. I feel great and happy. Wherever you find yourself, do it with all your might and in your capacity.”

With eight more years of active service to go, Sgt. Audu, who said he will miss the job when he retires, however maintained that he would not allow any of his children take after his footsteps career wise.

“I may not like my children to do this because they do not usually promote us like conventional policemen. I would have been an officer by now if I were a conventional policeman.”

Speaking to Inside Abuja, the founder Juremi fondation, Engr. Amen Rochas Okorocha, explained that the day was also a special day for honouring the gallant men of the NPF, who laid down their lives in the course of national duty, and also in reaching out to the downtrodden to give them a sense of belonging in society.

With lots of food items and empowerment packages such as sewing machines, cash and mobile phones, the foundation indeed put a smile on the faces of the mammoth crowd drawn from across all area councils in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

According to him, the foundation through its skills acquisition centre located at Karonmajiji, has”trained over 60 persons for free; they have graduated and started their small shops all over Karonmajiji. We are already planning on expanding our scope.

“Everybody is important everybody can be somebody tomorrow all they need is a little push,” he said.

Supporting his son who was taking his footsteps, the former Governor of Imo State and presently a senator in the ninth Assembly, Senator Rochas Okorocha, was all smiles as he and his wife in the midst of the heavy downpour, shared in the moments and series of activities mapped out to make the day a memorable one.

According to him, it was everybody’s business to reach out to the less privileged and physically challenged in every little way to give them a sense of belonging in every way possible.

Commenting on his feats as a philanthropist, he told Inside Abuja that “I started this about 22 years ago and they said it was politics but I said then that if politics is giving help to the less privileged  let everyone be a politician, so that it will be well with the society.

” I am happy to see my son do precisely what I was doing many years ago before I went into the establishment of schools. This is what is called the reach out and touch programme where we meet with the less privileged; those that have been neglected by society.

“This gives them a sense of belonging not even necessarily just the giving of material gifts but also we are able to interact with them and give them hope like giving hope to the hopeless.

“I am very happy my son, Juremi Foundation is doing this, giving to humanity and I expect that everyone in this country who is privileged, to do same to help the downtrodden. Our nation needs people of good spirit to help the poor. There are many of them around us. We could pretend they don’t exist but they exist; they are around us everywhere in every nook and cranny of this country.”

Commending the efforts of the foundation, one of the beneficiaries who is crippled, Adikko Musa, lamented the insensitivity of the Federal Government to the plight of persons living with disabilities, especially at the rural areas.

“Government should pick a cue from Juremi foundation; they shouldn’t see it that it is only in the office they can operate. When they come out as Juremi has done, they will see the special needs of  the special people and only then will they understand and follow the direction rather than stay in their offices and use other people.”

Also speaking, a visually impaired beneficiary, Adamu Abubakar, called on government to stop taking decisions on behalf of the disabled without consulting and allowing their voices be heard. While lamenting that the visually impaired were suffering within the FCT, he explained that they resort to begging in order to cater for their needs and family.

“We, blind people are suffering especially in the FCT. Some of us don’t like to go begging people for money. Rochas’ Foundation is supposed to tell our problems to government. They  should ask us what we like and what we need.

“We know you have tried to help us the disabled in getting work to do, pay our children’s school fees but we are challenging our government and leaders to do the right thing. Let our voice be heard.”

However, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Disability Matters, Dr. Samuel Ankeli, maintained that President Muhammadu Buhari has paid more attention to persons living with disabilities in the country than any other President has ever done.

He disclosed that the procedure for the establishment of the disability commission was in full gear saying, “very soon, the commission will be established, governing council will be approved and by this time in few weeks’ time, things will have changed.

“We are very optimistic that the example the president has set is trickling down to all levels and we are raising the advocacy in this second tenure so that everybody that is supposed to be involved in the governance structure for the improvement of the lives of people living with disabilities will be  encouraged without much compulsion or duress,”Ankeli said.

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Inside Abuja

We’ll move gender issues to next level –Paulen Tallen



We’ll move gender issues to next level  –Paulen Tallen

Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Paulen Tallen, has assured the women folk of improving their lot and moving gender issues to the next level. Tallen gave the assurance at the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja, said that President Mohammadu Buhari has reasons for sending her there. She noted that President Buhari was aware of complaints by women of not being carried along in his administration, stating that things would improve not only for women but for all citizens.

“This is a wholistic ministry as the woman takes care of the home, children and husband. I’m giving you all a charge that things will be done differ-ent henceforth but we must set out targets and work towards achieving it. We must make history and make undelible mark on the sands of history.

“You have severally bombarded Mr. President about the role women played in his political carrer. He is not unmindful of that and I want to assure you that he has a very good reason of sending me to this ministry,”she said. “You will see the enormous surpoort and corporation we are going to enjoy from him. We all resolved to work as a team from our recent retreat. This ministry is multi facet and has a lot of responsibility. To touch the lives of the vulnerable. “We have an uphill task to meet up with mandate of the ministry and demand of the president.”

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Inside Abuja

Tackling issues of migration on internal security



Tackling issues of migration on internal security

The Department of State Services (DSS) recently organised a seminar to address the menace of transhumance activities in the country. EMMANUEL ONANI reports on the off takes of the programme


The concept of globalisation has compelled most nations of the world to waive  certain economic,  social, cultural and other privileges  that defined their existence, in an effort to  meet  the contemporary demands of accommodating migrant populations.

As a result, several treaties and protocols have been signed in the past, and are still being endorsed, as part of the requirements for the sustenance of bilateral or multilateral relations among countries.

As a regional and global player, Nigeria had signed-on to several agreements, one of which is the ECOWAS  Protocol on free movement of people, goods and services (Transhumance).

This instrument, which was intended to serve as “manure” for regional integration, has remained a potential threat to national security, as seen in the cross-border activities of the nomadic  pastoralists  in Nigeria and across West Africa.

It was in recognition of the threats that transhumance activities and international migration were constituting to Nigeria’s internal security, that the Department of State Services (DSS) held a seminar last week, to chart a definitive course.

The seminar, which held at the National Institute for Security Studies (NISS), witnessed presentation of lectures to participants of the Executive Intelligence Management Course (EIMC 12) of the research and policy institute.

In a lecture entitled, “Transhumance and International Migration: Implication on Nigeria’s Internal Security”, the DSS’ Director, Crisis Management Centre, Mr. Mr. Abba Adams, said the programme would afford  participants – whose membership was drawn from the Service, military, police, para-military organisations, as well as senior government officials –  the opportunity to discuss the effect of transhumance and other cross-border activities, with a view to finding the way forward.

As a background, Adams said transhumance activity is an aspect of international migration widely distributed across the continent of Africa. He said  its origin could be traced to the Fulani, who migrated from Senegambia in the 14th Century eastwards in search of pasture for their cattle.

According to him, the continued desert encrochment along the Sahel region as a result of climate change was one of the major factors responsible for seasonal migration of herdsmen from one region to the other.

This development, the director submitted, has continued to have reverberatory effects, as seen in spread of infectious diseases, conflict, proliferation of small arms and light weapons among others.

“Transhumance activities as an aspect of international migration pose real threat to the internal security of Nigeria.

“More than ever before, animal disease, infections and conflicts are becoming increasingly rampant due to transhumance activities.

“Nigeria is a standard theatre for herders and farmers conflict. The theatre of conflict is very pronounced in states like Benue, Zamfara, Nasarawa, Taraba, Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Adamawa and Kaduna amongst others.

“The clashes affected the 2017 to 2018 harvests seasons because it started when farmers were harvesting their crops…”, Adams said.

Proliferation of small arms and light weapons

In his estimation, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons features as one of the underlying effects of transhumance activities on Nigeria’s Internal security.  According to him, the destruction recorded in the various herders/farmers clashes in Nigeria was an indication that the use of lethal weapon by opposing militia groups is on the increase.

He recalled that the Federal Government had made efforts in the past, to address the threats associated with transhumance activities.

Among other interventions, according to Adams, were military operations, the Great Green Wall Agency, livestock development plan, as well as proposed cattle ranching system.


Notwithstanding Federal Government’s interventions, as enumerated above, the senior official said some factors had continued to militate against such efforts.

He identified those constraints to include’ obsolete land tenure system, climate change, weak policing, ungoverned border areas, and weak national identity system.

As part of measures towards addressing challenges associated with pastoralist activities, the Federal Government has been charged on the urgent need to: review the Land Use Act, improve policing,  ensure the development of border areas, establishment of a national climate change commission, development of an effective national identity system, and development of a modern cattle  ranching system.

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