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Inside Abuja

Shi’ites’ protests: Residents count pains, losses

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Shi’ites’ protests: Residents count pains,  losses

Residents of the Federal Capital Territory  (FCT) have  expressed  anger over the pains and losses arising from the continued street protest by members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria. CALEB ONWE reports

 

The frequent protests by members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) also known as Shi’ites, have become a source of concern to residents of the Federal Capital Territory.

A number of residents, who spoke with Inside Abuja, said the situation was fast becoming a real threat to lives and property. The protests, they said, have  gradually assumed the shape of  terrorism and Abuja  appeared to have returned to the past  when  Boko Haram terrorists were frequently bombing both government buildings and private business premises,  creating palpable fears and tension in the city.

Some residents have  blamed the current tensed situation on government’s apparent refusal  to yield  to  the demands of the sect to release  their spiritual leader, Sheikh Ibraheem El’zakzaky whom the courts had granted bail.

A cameraman with one of the broadcast  organizations in Abuja, who narrowly escaped being lynched during the last violent clash between the Shi’ttes and the police, said the government was becoming too insensitive to the plight of  the citizens.

The cameraman, who pleaded anonymity,  said he escaped from the angry protesters who had encircled him during the protests  and threatened  to kill him.

According to him,   he could have been lynched but for his ability to communicate with the mob  in  Hausa  language and pleading with them  during the encounter. He expressed joy that he did not become the story instead of staying alive to tell the story.

“Government should listen to the Shittes and release their leaders in order to stop this needless bloodshed.  I would have been killed by these protesters who had already seized my camera and were threatening to stone me to death. I begged them in their language, pleading that I am a Moslem and a journalist with a private station and not a government media.

“They were not convinced until they had seen my identification card. They left me to go, but didn’t give me the memory card of my camera which they had forcefully collected from me. They accused me of filming their actions,” he said.

Another resident, Jeremiah Idris, said that coming into Abuja from the surbubs have become a hellish experience almost on  daily basis, due to the protests.

Idris stated that those who live in Nyanya and Mararaba were the worst hit, as soldiers who mount survellance at various check points along the highway would always create artificial traffic gridlock that would keep commuters for hours on a journey that is not supposed to be more than 15 minutes.

He expressed anger that innocent commuters were always at the receiving end of these road blocks which the  authorities said were for the purpose of preventing members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria from moving into the city centre for their protests.

According to him, on Monday last week, he spent three hours, coming from Mararaba to the Federal Secretariat, where he works in one of the government agencies.

He urged security agencies to change their method of operations, as the road blocks have never prevented the Shittes from moving into the city centre in droves for their protest.

“If the government cannot yield to the cry of these people and release their leaders, the security operatives should stop blocking the roads and  subjecting innocent citizens to untold hardship almost everyday.

“Why are they still blocking the roads?

Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria have always beaten all these  security measures to come to the city centre for their protests,” he said.

Inside Abuja‘s investigation revealed that apart from subjecting commuters to hardship,  residents of the nation’s capital were becoming more worried with the fact that moving around town had become a dangerous expedition.

Mrs. Janet Okagbue said that it so no longer safe to drive around town, as it is uncertain which street the Shiittes protest would take place on any particular day.

Okagbue stated that since the clash between the protesters and security agencies have deteriorated to the level of damaging vehicles and burning down public utilities, sometimes resulting to death,  it is not advisable to drive around town if you have no compelling reason to do so.

According to her, the situation was becoming very precarious because the Shittes appear to be ready to die for their course, and cannot be predicted.

Inside Abuja gathered that while the Shittes  have refused to stop the street march despite the  loss  of their members,   other members of the public were becoming very worried that innocent people who ordinarily should not have been affected by the crisis were becoming victims.

During the last violent clash between the Shittes and security operatives in the Central Business  District of Abuja,  a number of people lost their lives.

Spokesman of the Shitte  group, Abdullahi Musa, said that about 20 of their members were killed during the crackdown by the Police.

Perhaps, most painful aspect of the loss , was the death of a  Channels Television’s reporter, Precious Owolabi, who was at the scene of the protest with a view to report it. Owolabi, who was a serving  member  of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) was probably,  hit by a stray bullet.

The clash also claimed the life of a Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations, in FCT Police command,  DCP Usman   Umar.

Apart from the loss of lives,  residents are also worried about the number of public  property  that  has  been destroyed due to the violent clashes.

In recent times, smashing and burning of vehicles on the roads, especially those  that have government’s identification marks have become the characteristics of the protest, especially any time the police try to forcefully disperse the protesters.

During the last clash, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), lost its two  Quick Response Ambulances parked at the  Emergency Response Station located near the  Federal Secretariat Complex.

Head of Media and Public Relations of NEMA, Malam Sani Datti, who confirmed this, expressed sadness that the protesters could embark on such willful damage to public property.

“This is to confirm that ERABs of the NEMA located on Ahmadu Bello Way beside the Federal Secretariat was attacked today with two vehicles burnt down.

“The attack was carried out by members of Islamic Movement of Nigeria commonly known as Shi’ites.” he said.

Datti explained that the affected vehicles were the Mobile Intensive Care Unit, which was a life support ambulance, and a multi-purpose Response Intervention Van.

According to him, the ERABs were situated at the location for timely response to emergencies and disasters to reduce loss of lives and property.

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Inside Abuja

When women marched against rape

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When women marched against rape

Over 1,500 women recently marched on the streets of Abuja as part of activities marking the 16 days of activism on the elimination of Violence Against Women (VAW) in the country.  DEBORAH OCHENI reports

 

 

Hundreds of  women all dressed in orange coloured dresses, joined the  rest of the  world to commemorate the 16 days of activism and  protest against  the increasing rate  of rape in the country.

It was actually derived from 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, an annual international campaign that kicks off on November 25, which is also the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs through to  December 10,  the International Human Rights Day.

It was started by activists at the inaugural Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and has continued to be celebrated yearly with different themes, used as an organising strategy by individuals and organisations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.

This year’s theme, ‘Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape’ further amplifies the epidemic of rape and other sexual assault against women and young girls globally.

According to reports by the United Nations Women (UNWomen) entity, “while the names, times and contexts may differ, women and girls universally experience rape, sexual violence, and abuse, in times of peace or war.”

It is against this background that the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Dame Pauline Tallen, in conjunction with the UNwomen led the  group of over 1,500 women in a walk to end rape in Nigeria.

The walk, which commenced from the Eagle Square, moved to the Supreme Court  and Police  Headquarters. The women  asked   for the prosecution of offenders and for police to provide trained staff to support victims and survivors of rape amongst many other demands.

In a  letter addressed  to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Mohammed,  the protesters  noted that incidents  of rape  was growing   at  an alarming rate as it is being reported on pages of newspaper daily.

“It is hard to note that children and adult are dealing with such pains.  In consideration of your strategic roles as the head of apex courts in Nigeria, coupled with the trust displayed so far, my ministry is calling and appealing to the Nigerian benchers for easy prosecution of offenders and ensure social justice for all.

“We appeal for the release of un-convicted victims and that they should be properly prosecuted. No victim of rape should suffer any injustice; no offender should go free because rape is injustice to humanity. Women and girls have suffered enough and we say no to rape. Rape must end,” the letter signed by Tallen read.

Head of Litigation Department at the Supreme Court,  Ibrahim Gold, who received the letter on behalf of the  Chief Justice,  noted that “the message is well taken and we assure you that the message will be conveyed to the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the needful shall be done very soon”.

At the Police Headquarters,  Tallen  told the Inspector General of Police that  Nigerian  women were very angry over the high rate of rape in the country.

“Our purpose of being here is because the police is the first point of call when there is a problem. This is the foundation of any issue that can go the court. If we don’t get it right at the foundation,  the building will not stand.

“I am here with tears in my eyes on behalf of Nigerian mothers and children. The 16 days of activism on the elimination of gender based violence kicked off on the 25th of November and it is a 16-day advocacy programme to sensitize all Nigerians and to support our demands. We  are saying No to Rape.

“We are here to demand for justice over the high rate of rape that is on the increase on daily basis. It  has reached an alarming rate that we can no longer keep quiet. We demand and cry for justice that the police should treat all cases of rape with all seriousness and proper litigation of offenders.

“We demand that the Police should arrest and investigate suspects or accused persons of violence against women and girls, provide hotlines to ease reporting violence against women and rape, work with community actors and other justice system to facilitate access to justice for survivors of violence against women and girls.

“I have dedicated trained staff to support victims and survivors and continue to treat gender based violence seriously and treat survivors with confidentiality and respect” she said.

Abdulmadri Ali, DIG in charge of Operations, who received the letter on behalf of Muhammed Abubakar Adamu, Inspector General of Police, appreciated the minister’s visit,  assuring her that all she has presented will be communicated to the  Inspector General of Police for immediate action.

“We have a strong women team that has been on most of these cases of rape. I want to assure you on behalf of the Inspector General of Police that action will be taken in all our commands to handle cases of rape seriously” Ali assured.

Similarly, Inimfon Etuk, the founder of SHE Forum Africa, who was at the walk,  stated  the action was very important because  of the rising spate of violence against women.

“We are at a time where we are going to see little results in terms of how many people are coming up to tell their own stories and experiences so that we learn lessons from them. We are out this morning to take a stand against rape and all forms of violence against women. It is important to continue to encourage our sisters and young girls to break the silence and we want to defeat the culture of silence because if you don’t speak out, you can’t get the support you need.

“The journey to equality cannot be achieved if we keep silent in the face of inequality and all forms of ills against girls.” Etuk added.

Tina Bawa said apart from sexual assault, women are raped in almost all sphere of  their existence.

“We are raped financially, emotionally, mentally and even physical and we are saying enough is enough. It is a sensitization walk aimed at calling all Nigerians to say no to rape and to tell Nigerians that we need a safe and healthy country. A country where women and children are not abused. Orange the world is a call to make our world a safe and brighter place.”

As the rally drew to a close, Tallen appealed to parents to start educating their children at the very early age about sexuality and the dangers of rape.

“Parents should educate their children as early as age four because children these days are very wise and conscious of their body. You must encourage your children to speak out if anybody touches any part of their body and their parts of the body must be well explained. We shouldn’t be ashamed to teach our children sex education because sex education and moral  awareness are very  important,” she said.

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Inside Abuja

From corn roasting to philanthropy

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From corn roasting to philanthropy

The stories of 33 young ladies and men changed,  not just with skills to make an impact on society, but with the needed empowerment to lift them out of poverty and enable them achieve their dreams. REGINA OTOKPA reports

 

 

“No matter your condition today, it does not determine your future. Keep believing that you can make it, work towards it with honesty; no stealing, no cheating, no corruption of any kind and God who sees your heart will know how to uplift you.”

Those were the words of Evang. Elizabeth Praise, the founder ISHIBA Development Empowerment Centre, Abuja. She is one out of many women who refused to allow their condition stand as a limitation to climbing the ladder of success despite the hurdles, to achieve their destinies.

For many years, she struggled on the streets of Lagos roasting corn to sustain her family made up of seven children, eating garri and groundnut to survive. However, things took a turn for the better in 2000.

“When hardship came upon me so much, God was telling me he was going to use me to get so many people out of hardship I thought he was joking but when he started uplifting me from the year 2000, gradually, that was when I realised he actually wants to use me to make lives better.”

Speaking to Inside Abuja, Elizabeth noted that with God by her side, she broke the chains of abject poverty and answered a call from 30 years ago to live her life wiping off tears from the faces of the vulnerable and poor struggling to survive.

According to her, ISHIBA since it begun operations as a Non Governmental  Organisation, has assisted over 200 people to start off a business, carried out health outreaches and has so far invested over N50 million on empowerment programmes.

One of such was the recent graduation and empowerment of 30 young ladies and three men, pioneer students of ISHIBA fashion school in Kuje, a suburb in Abuja, after a one-year free entrepreneurial training. For their personal startups, each student got two sewing machines and the sum of N100,000 to rent a shop in any location of their choice.

Beaming with smiles, an excited Elizabeth who said she got the vision to be a philanthropist about 30 years ago, explained that her experiences years back helped to ignite her passion to cater for others, especially the poor and needy.

“Without God, there is no ISHIBA. He gave me the vision about 30 years ago when I was in abject poverty, when we were unable to feed.

“I thought he was joking but when he started uplifting me from the year 2000 gradually, that was when I realised he actually wants to use me to make lives better.

“I know the meaning of the word poverty and even though it has been deleted from my life, I am now using the blessings to cater for others. This is a pinch of what I want to do for the less privileged; I only pray God to bless me with more resources to do that he has asked me to.

“I am not rich but the little I have, I use it to empower people and I am happy. It is not about how much you have in your accounts, no matter how little it is, use it to impact on the lives of others.”

Addressing the graduands, Elizabeth whose motivator is her mum, sternly warned against mismanagement adding that the Centre would monitor the progress of each person empowered.

Resident Advisor Entrepreneurship and Youth Development, Sultan Maccido Institute for Leadership, Peace and Development Studies, University of Abuja, Prof Onyeke Onyeke, stressed on the need for  entrepreneurial centres in rural areas, churches and universities across the country.

He encouraged the graduands to embrace good communication, be resilient and honest if they want to excel.

“You need to market yourself well enough. We need you to impact positively whereever you find yourselves.”

The overall best student, Margaret Emmanuel, who didn’t find the training easy, said constant research helped her to stand out amongst others.

“It wasn’t easy for me from the beginning but along the line, I discovered that anything you want to do is all about determination. I was even surprised because I didn’t know I would come first.

“One thing I have learned from here is that it’s no longer just about sewing, but you need to be creative.”

On her part, Otor Comfort, who clinched the second position, said hard work is the best. She looks forward to emulating her benefactor by using her resources to cater for others

“I left my business to learn this because it can sustain you. I bake but I am adding fashion designing and I am still going to learn more. When I see mummy doing things like this, I pray to God to make me a giver like this because it is one thing to have, it’s another thing to have the heart to give.”

The Etsu Kwali, Kwali area council, Dr. Shaban Audu, who commended ISHIBA for the free training and empowerment, said one of the ways Nigeria could fight poverty was through entrepreneur skills.

“The idea of training you is to have a multiplier effect on society. This is one of the things important for development in this country to fight poverty and hunger and ISHIBA has trained you to be able to use your skills from being poor and hungry,” he said.

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Inside Abuja

Fire-fighting: Catching them young

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Fire-fighting: Catching them young

A forthright ago, an indelible mark was made in the memory of students of   Junior Secondary School, Pasali, in Kuje Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory  on fire-fighting techniques.  CALEB ONWE reports

 

The students were not just excited seeing a team of fire fighters from the FCT Department of Fire Service,  led by the Director, Mr. Opetunsin Julius, in their school but showed quite an unusual enthusiasm  watching a demonstration of how tackle   a fire  outbreak  or prevent one.

The team of fire fighters, who were in  the school as part of its  fire disaster prevention enlightenment campaign held both students,  teachers and other spectators spellbound with some firefighting skills.

Inside Abuja observed that for close to two hours that the campaign lasted in the school, academic activities were temporarily suspended, as  the students and staff of all categories struggled for space to catch a glimpse of all the demonstration.

The brief lectures encapsulated important tips on what both adults and children needed to know and do about prevention of fire disaster at home, school and offices. But these talks were not as fascinating as  the practical  demonstration of   how to fight fire.

Some brave and courageous students even volunteered to participate by handling some of the firefighting equipment which  they were probably, seeing for the first time.

Highlight of the campaign was the announcement of the names of some boys and girls who were recruited to form the pioneer Fire Safety Club in the school.

The distribution of reflective jackets with  yellow and orange stripes to members of the newly formed club was even more exciting  to the children as  many of them received it  with joy.

Inside Abuja‘s interface with two members of the newly formed club revealed more about the gains of the enlightenment campaign.

Rufus Jessey and Victoria Ogale, both in Junior Secondary School 3, could not fully express their joy for being among those selected as pioneer members of the club in their school.

While Jessey said he had learnt a lesson that he would encourage his parents to imbibe in fire safety, Ogale, a teenage girl, vowed to help other students internalize the importance of safety measures.

“I have learnt some things which I will go home to teach my parents on fire safety. I will  also encourage them to do  the needful in providing some necessary firefighting equipment  at home”, Jessey said.

Inside Abuja gathered that the fire safety    enlightenment campaign in the rural areas was aimed at  preventing  fire disasters in view of the fast approaching  harmattan season.

Director,  FCT Fire Service, Opetunsin Julius, said the enlightenment campaign was designed to educate young people  about  basic safety measures to forestall fire disasters in the community.

Julius noted that the spate of fire disasters  had become alarming  not only in Abuja, but across the country  and  some proactive measures needed  to be  taken against it.

While inaugurating the Fire Safety Club , he stated that FCT Minister had given the Fire Service Management a marching order to ensure that the effects of the harmattan season was properly mitigated in the territory.

He also explained that the idea behind the fire safety clubs in schools was to arouse the consciousness of  the children and make them agents of preventing fire disasters in school and at home.

According to him, the Service would replicate the club in most of the schools across the territory,  especially in the rural areas, to inculcate fire safety in the children, who will also assist their parents in the preventive measures.

“Prevention is better than cure. With the incessant fire outbreaks in the country now, we have to do something about fire prevention,  especially as harmattan season is approaching and we all know that the rate of fire outbreak during harmattan is very high than in the rainy season.

“We have to be very proactive by bringing this enlightenment programme to the people at the grassroots.  I advise parents to be very vigilant at home.  They should ensure that there are firefighting equipment, like fire extinguishers and blankets. They should also take some necessary safety measures to prevent fire outbreak.

“Residents should not compromise fire safety for security. They should learn  how to always create emergency exits at homes so that in case there is fire, occupants would find a way of escape”, Julius noted.

In his remarks, Vice Principal,  Academic of the school, Mr. Yusuf Bisalla, noted that the enlightenment campaign was an imperative measures needed to forestall fire disasters.

He also commended FCT Fire Service for the School Fire Safety Club initiative, which he said would go a long  way in orientating the children for the future.

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Inside Abuja

Kubwa traffic: Task team to close Gwarinpa U-turn

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Federal Capital Territory Administration Traffic Management Task Team says it will close the popular Gwarinpa U-turn as part of measures toward resolving the festering traffic lockjam in that axis.

Chairman of the team, Mr Ikharo Attah, who made the disclosure while briefing newsmen on Friday in Abuja, said that the decision was in tandem with the resolve of the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, to ease traffic flow in the territory.

Attah said that traffic bottleneck on the roads as well as rising accident ratescin  had reached  alarming levels.

He explained that the Executive Secretary of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), Malam Umar Jubrin, acting on the minister’s directive, mandated some engineers to ensure that the traffic team’s request was fully carried out.

“After over two months of study of the situation during peak periods, we discovered that the major cause of traffic gridlock on the Kubwa expressway is the Gwarimpa U-turn located close to the Charley-boy route.

“We have tried to manage the situation for several weeks through the Federal Road Safety Corps by putting men and vehicles on the ground during peak periods.

“This yielded very little result as the traffic bottleneck is caused by those negotiating at the U-turn.

“This is a tough decision particularly as it will affect those entering Gwarimpa from the expressway, but we must not shy away from addressing the plight of millions plying the other  northern expressway (Kubwa road),’’ he said.

He said that motorists would have to use the EFAB Metropolis interchange (flyover), to connect with the service lane that leads to Gwarimpa Housing Estate.

According to Attah, while the engineers will seal up the U-turn, officials of the Federal Road Safety corps would be on ground to direct motorists and ensure the work is done without disruption.

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Unveiling FCT’s demographic, health survey report

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Unveiling FCT’s demographic, health survey report

The Federal Capital Territory(FCT) recently unveiled the 2018  National Demography and Health Survey  (NDHS) report in Abuja. DEBORAH OCHENI reports

 

 

In the modern world, decision making is based on data, especially data of good quality. Such data are essential for national governments and institutions to accurately plan, fund and evaluate development activities.

It is against this background that the National Population Commission, FCT, Abuja,  officially launched  the 2018 National Demography and health survey   (NDHS) report in Abuja.

The launch, which was organised by the National Population Commission (NPC) in collaboration National Malaria Elimination programme of the Federal Ministry of Health was aimed at providing health information and data to Nigerians.

The indicators, from the report, cover areas such as fertility, family planning among married women within the age of 15-49, maternal health care among women within the age of 15-49. It also covers Child Health, Nutrition, Child Mortality; death per 1,000 live birth, Malaria, Domestic Violence among age 15-49 and Female Genital Cuttings.

Speaking at the event, the Supervising Commissioner, Federal Capital Territory, National Population Commission, Alliu Datti, stated that the 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health survey (NDHS) is the sixth Demographic Health Survey conducted in Nigeria since 1990.

“The survey provides up-to-date estimate on basic demographic and health indicators in the entire country, including the FCT, Abuja. The National Population Commission worked in close collaboration with the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) under the Federal Ministry of Health across the 36 states and the FCT towards accomplishing the survey report,” he said.

Datti disclosed  that a total of 41,821 women aged 15 – 49 in 40,427 household and 13,311 men aged 15-59 in one third of the sampled households were interviewed representing a response rate of 99 per cent of women and 99 per cent of men.

“I am pleased to say, innovative approaches were used in the conduct of the 2018 NDHS. It has engendered high quality height and weight measurement from children and women. A new biomarker checklist was introduced to ensure that no important tasks were missed and I am pleased to inform you that these new improved process piloted here in Nigeria including FCT have been adopted as standard procedure in DHS surveys by other nations, especially Africa,” he said.

According to Datti, the result of the survey shows a number of significant outcomes such as:    Two  per cent   of women and two per cent of men aged 15 and above have difficulty or cannot function in at least one domain of disability such as seeing, hearing, communicating, walking, etc. In addition,  nine per cent   of women and 10 per cent  of men have some difficulty in at least, one domain.

“The data gathered on disability will be of significance to the social development statistics in planning for the wellbeing of persons living with disabilities in the country.     Nigeria, including FCT, also piloted genotype testing of children ages 6-59 months for sickle cell diseases for the first time in a DHS survey anywhere in the world,” Datti said.

According to him, basic  development indicators are essential for an accurate picture of a country’s development status as  a government  cannot build schools without knowing the number of children that need to be enrolled.

Inside Abuja learnt  that the (NDHS) is conducted every five years to provide  all planners, especially those in the  health sector, with reliable up-to-date demographic and health information and data in Nigeria.

Territorial Director, National Population Commisison, Bello  Suleiman, said the survey would be used to measure progress in other related human and social development indices, such as skilled birth attendance, antenatal care coverage, contraceptive and many others.

According to Suleiman, the survey is a fundamental geo-data base that represents a frame for all kinds of surveys that would be needed not just for the census but for academic and political use.

“Politicians who want to put up project in a community will know exactly where such project is needed with data available in this report and same goes to educational, health and other sectors.

“Enumeration Area Demarcation (EAD) which simply means splitting of an LGA into a smaller unit of Area with an identifiable geographical boundary, for the purpose of being counted by a pair enumerators during any census has so far  being done on  Kwali, Abaji, Gwagwalada and Bwari.

“The Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) is  so massive  because its population is nearly that of smaller states like Jigawa, Bayelsa and so on. When it comes to data collection, it is always hectic for us but this time around, we are using EDA which is just a mobile phone for household data collection. We are also using satellite imaging that has a very high resolution to pick any object. We are going to return every structure.

“It is comprehensive data collection. That is why I call it data revolution. It will be needed by all agencies even the security because it’s difficult to police a community where you don’t have data,” he said.  Suleiman noted that the survey  will enable stakeholders to identify the particular areas that require priority attention.

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A decade of celebrating elderly people

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A decade of celebrating elderly people

Graceful Ageing Fellowship (GRAF) recently celebrated 10 years of giving  a new meaning to life of elderly persons in Nigeria. REGINA OTOKPA reports

 

In Nigeria, you don’t find too many government  programmes targeted at the aged and senior citizens, who have contributed their own quota directly or indirectly to nation building.  Yet, there are millions of elderly people spread across  different communities, who served the nation  in different capacities but have apparently been forgotten by the society.

However, individuals from the age of 50 and above are in need of defined rights and privileges primarily  to provide special care and services to make the latter parts of their  lives more beautiful and interesting in order to ward off depression and prolong their lives.

Filled with deep passion to change the narrative,  Senator Eze Ajoku started the Graceful Ageing Fellowship  (GRAF) International, 10 years ago. It began precisely in October 2009, from New Estate Baptist Church with persons within the age bracket of 50 years and above. The programme was designed to encourage old people to look after themselves, so as to live a happier and healthier life without visiting the doctor on a regular basis.

In a bid to expand the frontiers of the programme,  a series of activities were lined up to commemorate its 10 years anniversary.

It featured several activities to boost welfare and   healthy lifestyle as well as the  spiritual, physical and emotional wellbeing of aged men and women.

Speaking to Inside Abuja, Ajoku  explained that his diabetic condition opened a new chapter of running with a vision of rallying older persons  to a lifestyle that actively involves exercises, socialising with others and eating right to prolong their lives.

“A lot of people have certain ageing sicknesses and they are ignorant of what to do about it. Many Nigerians are diabetic and hypertensive but they don’t even know until they suddenly slump or something happens but with  GRAF,  a lot of the members have known what to do and what to expect.

“In Abuja alone, more than 10,000 persons have passed through our teachings here and I am glad it is paying off. In 10 years, we have done very well and many Nigerians have benefitted from our experience and our mentorship.

“When Nigeria begins to grow and rights are defined for our people, older people will have a cause to rejoice.  But for now, no older person, no senior citizen has any right or privileges in this country and it is a shame.

“Part of the things that kills older persons is loneliness. We are looking for areas that will benefit the older persons to be healthy.,” he said.

According to Bisi Abiola, healthy living in Nigeria is confronted with a number of issues such as; the absence of a national policy on ageing, granting of pensions only to the formal sector, being viewed as a sense of burden, lack of proper healthcare/insurance and  lack of age friendly services.

She, however, charged the older persons to take responsibility for their welfare and wellbeing by; taking a daily walk, eating healthy and getting adequate sleep daily.  The elderly, she said,  should also indulge in reading newspapers daily, go for regular medical checkups,  socialise and get a good laugh regularly.

“The belief is that old and aged persons should be taken care of by their family. We should forget about the government and  do it ourselves by eating right and exercising,” Abiola said.

A former Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Josephine Anenih, observed  that while the older generation in Nigeria have handed over a good structure to the younger generation,  older persons in the country were suffering from a lot of isolation.

“In Nigeria, we have four sets of vulnerable people; the women, the children, people living with disabilities and the elderly. The country has Ministry of Women Affairs, they have laws to protect children, they have laws for the disabled but nothing for the elderly people. So, we are pushing for an Old People’s Commission to look after the issues that concerns the elderly persons.

“Organisations like GRAF gives the older persons an opportunity to socialise which is very good for their health as it prolongs their lives to live more healthy and happier in the society, ” she said.

Indeed, if these elderly citizens have invested their youthful and active years contributing to the socio-economic development  of Nigeria,  their   mental and  physical health as well as the financial well-being should be of concern and  a collective responsibility.

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Traffic team issues 7-day ultimatum to illegal motor parks in Kubwa

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Traffic team issues 7-day ultimatum to illegal motor parks in Kubwa

The FCT Ministerial Traffic Task Team has issued a seven-day ultimatum to operators of illegal motor parks in Kubwa area to relocate.

Chairman of the team, Mr Ikharo Attah, gave the ultimatum after a meeting with the motor park owners and traders.

Attah said that the measure was to ensure sanity in and around Kubwa, which was one of the populated Abuja outskirts.

Attah told operators of the park that the exercise was not a plan to hurt them but to ensure free flow of traffic in line with the FCT Minister, Muhammad Bello’s plan to ease traffic logjam in Abuja.

“We are carrying out a total clean up of Kubwa town: illegal motor parks will not be allowed to remain. We want the people to have and enjoy a special motor park terminal.”

“The continued trading on the road corridors in Kubwa is causing grilock in the axis and must be addressed.

“This is a major clean up of Kubwa town; you can see sundry nuisance all over. The exercise is all about sanity and not to hurt anyone.”

Mr Bello Kaka, Head of Enforcement, Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), in a remark, said that there was no going back on the exercise.

Kaka said that the board would soon start prosecuting those that failed to obey the extant laws.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the team held sensitisation meetings at NYSC junction, Kubwa, NNPC and Oando filling stations, Maitama Ultra modern market and Dutsen-Alhaji market gate.

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FCTA, WAEC partner to sanitize examination processes

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FCTA, WAEC partner to sanitize examination processes

The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has expressed its readiness to partner with the West African Examination Council (WAEC) in improving examination processes.

This disclosure was made when a delegation of the Nigeria National Committee of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) led by its Chairman, Hajiya Binta Abdulkadir, visited the  Minister,  Federal Capital Territory,  Malam Muhammad Musa Bello.

During the visit, the  minister pledged that  his administration would support  the successful hosting of the annual meeting of the National Committee in Abuja as well as all other activities of the Committee geared towards improving examination processes in the country.

Bello reiterated the administration’s commitment to the development of education in the territory and noted that FCT places great premium on the welfare of its  teachers.

He disclosed that the salaries and allowances of teachers, like all other staff  in the FCT were paid  and their promotions always effected as and when due.

Abdulkadir acknowledged that FCT had been supportive of the Council’s activities.

She also formally invited the FCT Minister to declare open the 57thAnnual Meeting of the Nigeria National Committee of WAEC and present the Endowment Fund Book Prizes to the three Best Schools in the FCT in the WASSCE for 2018.

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Julius Berger boss, 50 others bag NIQS Fellowship

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Julius Berger boss, 50 others bag NIQS Fellowship

Managing Director, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc,  Dr. Lars Richter, was at the  weekend,  awarded the Fellowship of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, FNIQS.

He was represented by the company’s Director of Corporate Development, Mr. Tobias Meletschus.

The Western Regional Manager of the company in Lagos, Mr. Alexander Bauer, also bagged the NIQS Fellowship at the same event.

A former Governor of Bauchi State and a fellow of the NIQS, Alhaji Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu, described  Julius Berger Nigeria Plc  as a  highly professional  organisation which has been  central to   infrastructural development, particularly   the roads sector in Nigeria.

Mu’azu, who was Chairman of the Investiture ceremony, recalled his encounter with Julius Berger when he was the Governor of Bauchi State.

“I am full of gratitude to the Institute, our Institute, the Institute I belong to for this unique event. I congratulate all the recipients of the NIQS Fellowship, especially the MDs and CEOs of the construction companies for their awards which they rightly deserve.

“I recall a case in point to underline what I mean. When I was Governor of Bauchi State, I wanted to construct good roads for the State. I stressed myself and drove all the way to Abuja to Julius Berger to see the then MD of the company. I think he was Mr. Marks (who is presently the Vice Chairman of Julius Berger). I got there and filled the visitor’s form and waited to see him. When we eventually met in his office, I introduced myself and told him I wanted good roads for Bauchi. He was very delighted, and professionally so. I am delighted to say that Julius Berger did a very great job in Bauchi. They should and must continue their good works as they remain central to road infrastructural development in this country. Other construction companies in this country should be doing same,” Muazu said.

President, Nigeria Institute of Quantity Surveyors,  Obafemi Oluwole Onashile,  said the Investiture events were strategies designed to expand the coast of the NIQS as “the success of contractors and their companies is always in the interest of the NIQS.”

He said that the status of the awardees at the event was a statement being deliberately made by the Institute to show that they are major players in that direction. Onashile explained that the readiness of Julius Berger, and others to share in the vision of the NIQS  in the areas of employment and training of Quantity Surveyors is commendable.

“They have always discussed with us on how to improve efficiency in our professional practice. They are ready to collaborate with us in these areas. These among others informed their respective selection for the award of our NIQS Fellowship to them,” he said.

Chairman of the NIQS Fellows Forum,  Anthony Ndah,  eulogised  Julius Berger Nigeria Plc for its contributions to the construction industry in Nigeria.

  “Julius Berger’s constant contribution to development and support for NIQS remains insurmountable.  Fellowship of the Institute is the highest gratitude we have for all who identify with the aspirations of the NIQS,” he said.

Other Fellowship awardees at the NIQS Investiture ceremony included the  CEO/Managing Director of Cappa and D’Alberto PLC, Mr Giovanni Mello Grand and  the Group Managing Director of ITB Nigeria.

Also, no fewer than 50 other members of the Institute were awarded the NIQS Fellowship at the event.

The NIQS Fellowship Investiture ceremony was attended by the Institute’s members across the country. It was preceded by the NIQS 2019 Annual General Meeting held at same venue.

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Drug abuse: Resident doctors take campaign to Wuse market

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Drug abuse: Resident doctors take campaign to Wuse market

Resident doctors in Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Wednesday embarked on campaign at Wuse market, Abuja, to educate traders and shoppers on the dangers of drug abuse.

The campaign was led by Dr Roland Aigbovo, the President, Association of Resident Doctors, FCT, as part of activities to mark the association’s Health Week.

He said that many people resort to substance abuse to ease off stress, adding that “people now take refuge in drugs to cover up stress, believing that once someone is high, he or she will forget their problems.

According to him, global burden of mental health disorder is projected to reach 15 per cent by the year 2020.

“This had resulted in suicide, a lot of people had taken their lives as a result of drug abuse.

“You will agree with me that suicide is alien to African culture, we are not used to taking our lives no matter the stress, unfortunately, things are changing.

“The medical profession is not left out of this menace because this year alone, between January and June, close to four doctors took their lives.

“If those that have been trained to provide people with healthcare become patients to the extent of taking their lives, it is a source of huge concern.”

He said that the residents doctors embarked on the campaign to draw government and public attention to mental health issues. (NAN)

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