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SUCCESS: It’s all empty promises –Mum

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SUCCESS: It’s all empty promises –Mum

Success Adegor, remember her?

 

The wonder kid from Sapele, Delta State, who literally set the internet on fire with her “u go flog, flog and flog until u tire” viral video in March. She did not only highlight her desire to be educated but somewhat exposed the rot in the country’s educational system. As expected, her outburst caught the attention of the state government, officials of her local government as well as notable individuals, especially from the Nollywood sector of the entertainment industry.

 

There were flood of promises in cash and promises to send her to the best school anywhere in the world that could help realise her lofty dreams in life. Incidentally, those promises have now become her family’s burden somewhat. The family, the mother said, now live in perpetual fear against all expectations, instead of the incident lifting her and her family as many anticipated. Threats have been pouring in their way in torrents of late in place of deserved accolades.

 

Aside that, the Adegor family house has somewhat become a mecca of sort as many visit to beg for unrealistic favour. This has heightened the fear of possible kidnap by those who perceive the family as swimming in millions.

 

The life of Success, according to her mother, Vera, has been everything but successful since the episode. Vera said: “People who made promises to us are yet to fulfill them. But some of them have been going about announcing that they had redeemed their promises and putting us in great danger with such careless talks.

 

“You can’t believe we’ve not heard from honourable Kelvin who promised publicly that he will provide accommodation for us. Unfortunately, many believe he actually bought a decent house for us.

There are also those who are peddling rumours that she has been given visa to travel abroad to further her education while others continue to broadcast that Success received millions of Naira from those who publicly promised to take us out of poverty. “The one that surprised me the most is that of the commissioner and the local government chairman. They came with journalists and promised before everyone that they would provide work for us.

 

The commissioner in particular promised to buy my husband Keke Napep (tricycle). All these meant trouble for us as people believe that we have become rich overnight.”

 

Vera, who told Saturday Telegraph in a telephone interview that their lives are in danger for the wrong perception people now have about them since the Success saga, said the family needed help. She said: “I want people to know that what they think is not the truth so that we can walk the streets free like we were used to.

 

 

“The only good thing about the Success story is that the government relocated the pupils of her school and renovation is ongoing in the hitherto dilapidated school as we speak. Most people are also happy with her for bringing the town to limelight. “The state government has also suddenly realised that people exist in that part of the state.

 

To me, that is something to be happy about. At least, history will forever be kind to her whenever the school or the town is mentioned. That is quite satisfying as parents,” Vera further said. She also revealed that Success who was promoted to primary four, took first position in her last promotion examination.

 

“We are very proud of her because she is very brilliant. In spite of her outburst, she has maintained cordial relationship with her classmates and teachers. Although some of the teachers may not be happy because she indicted them,” she said.

 

The seven-year-old Success, a pupil of Okotie Eboh Primary School, Sapele, Delta State, became a star after she featured in the short video, “Dem go flog, dem go tire”, which went viral on social media. She was sent home from school for not paying N900 examination fee. “I was angry.

 

It was not the first time and my favourite subject mathematics was about to commence then. I left the school premises and I was complaining when l met an auntie (neighbour) whose son had been sent home too. “She said she could take me back to school to plead on my behalf but l refused.

 

Bitter about being sent home and complaining, the neighbour kept pointing her phone at me while I kept expressing how angry I was,” the little girl said. Stephanie Idolor, the lady/neighbour, who did the recording, recalled how she saw the little girl grumbling.

 

Idolor had said: “Success was acting funny. She was a neighbour’s daughter and I recorded her with my phone. I never thought the video would go viral. Though I knew the video was funny, so, I shared it on WhatsApp and the next thing, it was on Facebook, Twitter and calls started coming in from all part of the country.”

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DEFORMED, RAPED, REJECTED

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DEFORMED, RAPED,  REJECTED

…the moving story of Osaigbakhome

 

 

Uhunoma, Kemi Osaigbakhome, 36, has known no peace from birth. For her, life has been hellish. Born with physical deformity, rejected by her father, community and friends, she is still holding onto fate that life can only get better. The fathers of her three children didn’t help either. They, too, abandoned her to fate. Interestingly, she refuses to be deterred by the many challenges life keeps throwing at her. She is a good example of the motivational talk of making a lemonade out of the lemon life is offering her.

 

Forced to leave her village, Otese, after Okada town in Edo State in December 2011, she came to Lagos in search of the proverbial greener pastures and hoping she would be accepted in the cosmopolitan state.’ But actually got more than she bargained for.

 

She slept in many public parks with her baby, she was beaten, accused of stealing the baby and had to bring out her breast as proof that she was the mother of the child. She was also rejected by some churches, driven away from the vicinity of many houses she wanted to pass the night. She roamed Lagos streets until fate finally settled her in the Ikotun, Egbe area of Lagos where she stayed in a shanty for years before she moved into a decent apartment (one room apartment) last year. Raising three children without the support of their fathers was tasking for a woman who was never sure of where her next meal will come from, she insisted begging was not an option. “I kept encouraging myself that it can only get better.

 

I kept assuring myself that I will survive it, if I have managed to get this far in life, I will surely laugh last,” she assured herself. Looking back at where she was coming from and where she is at the moment, she said she could beat her chest and say: “I came, saw and conquered.”

 

Although she has not, there have been remarkable achievements in her life compared to what it was back in her village in 2011. A few years back, her life was synonymous with abject poverty and total rejection by the society she found herself ….when she was lost, wallowed in confusion and unsure of what awaited her at different bus stops. More importantly, she is now related with, as a human being. Osaigbakhome through thick and thin has empowered herself: she produces perfumed liquid soap in different sizes, disinfectants, air freshener. She now has customers who patronise her and now use proceeds from her products to feed her children.

 

Osaigbakhome’s travails started from birth when she was born with physical deformity. Everyone, including the medical doctors avoided her and her mother like plagues. The father asked the medical personnel around to kill her at birth, but her mother refused. “My father rejected me immediately like a plague. He said there is no such being in his lineage, even in the village, no such child like this. He met with doctors to give me an injection that will kill me so that my mother will not bring me back home.

 

The doctors already accepted but they also needed my mother’s consent before the ‘euthanasia’ is carried out. Right there, my mother cried and refused to have me killed. She told the doctors and my father that even though I’m like this, she would take good care of me and named me Uhunoma, meaning person with good luck/aura. She named me so because while carrying me in her womb, she had an accident but did not die, she believed she survived that accident because of me.

 

My mother cried her eyes out,” she explained. Osaigbakhome, the third of nine children explained further that while her mother was crying profusely, a white doctor passed by,pitied her and he promised to do something to separate her hands and legs glued to her chest only if they could raise money for the surgery. “Immediately, my mother   vowed to borrow money for the surgery, while my father and his family members turned their backs on me and my mother. The operation did little wonders, my legs and hands were in POP for a long time during my childhood. Even now, my two hands are not really functional. One is barely functioning while the other is totally condemned and my two legs as you can see are not functioning well,” she said.

 

Actually, Osaigbakhome cannot stand straight on her legs because her legs and toes are bent, making her to swerve left and right when she walks, while her left hand dangles, the right barely manages to hold an object. Yet, she radiates life.

 

However, till she completed her primary school education, she wandered all round her village, helping out in one menial job or the other, also frying cassava flake (garri) for people who in turn would sell- a job she said she would beg to do and get poorly paid for. But the good thing for her was that, she was able to feed herself, since her father would not allow family members relate with her or allow her near the house. While wandering about in the village, she met the father of her first child who promised her paradise on earth. “He promised to help me and consoled me with soothing words that he would take care of me, not minding   my condition. Unfortunately, that was the beginning of my suffering. As soon as I informed him I was pregnant, he disappeared. Since then till date, I have not set my eyes on him. I carried and nurtured the pregnancy alone till I gave birth to a boy. It was only my mother who supported me but her powers were also limited because of my eight other siblings. I sought for help all round but no one came to my rescue.

 

But a strange voice was telling to commit suicide, telling me that there is peace in death after all. But the pastor of my church always encouraged me to be steadfast in faith but he didn’t know the extent to which I was feeling the pains and the accompanying stigmatisation. Even the government of my state then, could not help, as government’s officials referred me to the office of the physicallychallenged where I took several letters of application but nothing also came out of it.

 

Osaigbakhome eventually took the bull by the horns by deciding to come to Lagos. She said she had divine direction to leave but there was no money to fulfill that prophecy. According to her, she approached a woman in the village and asked her to be giving her bags of sachet water so that she could hawk to be able to raise money. Three months after she hawked in the traffic within the town, she was able to raise N4,100 for her transportation fare.

 

Quietly, she said she dressed her four-year-old son and left the village for Lagos. When she arrived in Lagos, it was not as rosy as she thought. But it was actually from the frying pan to the fire. What she experienced was actually far from what she bargained for. “I didn’t know anywhere in Lagos or where I was going but the bus dropped me at Ojota Bus Stop where I spent a few days at different parks with my son.

 

From there, to Oshodi and later went to Yaba. While roaming the length and breadth of Lagos, she was accused on several occasions of child theft, threatened to be stoned and in some instances she was thoroughly beaten. But she kept bailing herself out with her breast which she had used to feed the child. Her ability to breastfeed her child whenever she was accused of child theft saved her from being lynched. Besides, her being referred to as ‘mummy’ by the child whenever she was accused of child theft convinced her accusers that she was truly the mother of the child. She recalled an occasion where she and her child spoke in their dialect and the child was able to answer questions asked by the mob, which convinced them of the true relationship between her and her child. Eventually at Yaba, she met a man (vulcanizer) who took pity on her and directed her to Oshodi where she would receive help.

 

“The man stopped a bus for me, threw me first inside the bus and threw my child at me inside and paid my fare, also dashed me N500. He instructed the driver to drop me at Oshodi. At Oshodi, there was nowhere in particular as well, I just roamed the whole market with my child till late evening when I wanted to squat in front of a shop but some touts came to chase me away from that spot. Again, from Oshodi Bus Stop, we trekked to Charity Bus Stop where we wanted to pass the night inside the flower bed, again some people chased us, and called me a thief.

 

It took me a while to convince them that I am truly the mother of the child. I cried that if they have to kill me, they should go ahead but first, they must promise to help look after my child and inform him of what happened to his mother when he grows old enough to know,” she said amidst sob. It was at that point she said the crowd took pity on her and gave her a small space to spend the night till the following day when they would be taken to a place she would get help. In the morning, one of her accusers took her to the Synagogue Church and gave her money. But the security agents didn’t allow her to go near the church.

 

“They told me that Synagogue is not meant for someone of my type. I begged them, cried, used my child to blackmail their emotions but they did not bulge, rather, they mocked me and asked if it was TB Joshua who impregnated me. They pursued me out and again, I started roaming the streets.” After three days of roaming on the streets, a woman took pity on her, lodged her in a hotel, and took her inside the Synagogue Church.

 

“Inside the church, the elders of the church called ‘wise men’ prevented me from meeting the man of God because I had no shoes on. I told them that my condition would not let me put on shoes except a flip-flop; they said it is forbidden for the Man of God to see a person without shoes, again, they pursued me out of the church,” she narrated. She continued looking for help until a good Samaritan gave her N2000 which she used to pay for her accommodation for 10 days, at the rate of N100 per day. She took N500 out of the remaining N1000 to start hawking sachet water, even at that, people were reluctant to patronise her. At times, she said the market touts would come to chase her out of the market.

 

“Still, I refused to resolve to begging, it is just not the best option for me as a person and I am not condemning those doing it, but I believe there are many honourable things out there for physically challenged people than begging.” She found herself at a church on Aliu Bolorunpelu Street in Ikotun where she began to worship helping to keep the church clean, yet, she claimed the church told her that nothing could be done to help her, rather they gave her a letter to the SOS Charity Home in Isolo and with a stern warning that she should not disclose her identity, her state of origin and real name. She said the warning made her to add ‘Kemi’ to her name. But at the SOS Charity Home, she was questioned and even confronted with the fact that she was from Edo but she denied based on the warning of the church.

 

The SOS official asked her if she knew the content of the letter, the church gave her, she said she didn’t. “At that point, the man told me that the church asked them to take the child from me for proper care. I broke down in tears, felt betrayed because that was not what the church told me.

 

They assured me that the SOS would give me accommodation and take care of me and my child,” she said. She continued that the SOS officer told her to go back to the church to get two lawyers and four policemen to sign the letter before they could take the child from her because the contents of the letter negate what she was asking for. “They told me that they cater for children they pick on the streets or gutters but since I was claiming that I was the mother of the child, then there must be legal backing to it. I was devastated that a church of God could be that deceptive to me. I left the SOS Charity Home with my child but never returned to that church again,” she said.

 

Meanwhile, while seeking for help in one of the churches, a pastor promised to help her get Lagos State government support, which they normally give to physically challenged persons which she felt would be far better.

 

Unbeknownst to her, the pastor had an ulterior motive. She said he got her the financial help to the tune of N100,000 but refused to deliver the money to her “Instead, he took canal advantage of me and only gave me N3,000 out of the money. He gave me money in instalments amounting to N8,000,” she said. Osaigbakhome however found another church, which accommodated her. There, she also was also sweeping and cleaning the church. Whenever it rained and there was flood in the church, she would ask her baby to climb her back while she would stand till the flood subsided. At the church, the members were really generous to her and her child. She was also allowed to benefit from the church’s economic empowerment programme.

 

Along the line in the church, luck smiled on her, she met a man identified simply as Sanya, who promised her heaven on earth. “And truly, he was really good to me and my child, he took good care of us, gave us food and money. I was really happy for once in my life,” she said. Before long, Osaigbakhome was pregnant and Sanya took her to his family. “Immediately, they saw me, they drove me out calling me a cripple. They told my husband that if he could not talk to a woman, he should indicate so that they would help him do so, but the least they expected of him was to bring home a cripple,” she said.

 

But the man stood by her, turned his back on his family and even lived with her in a rusty shanty. She described it as pure love at work then. When she was delivered of her baby,   she said her church members went to her in-law’s family house at 14 Afinaka Street, to plead for her. “My in-law threatened that if my husband made the mistake of bringing me to the family house, they would sell it and share the money among themselves. They just couldn’t stand my nature,” she said. Gradually, her in-law’s rejection took a toll on her husband and he too stayed away. “Again, I became devastated because I thought I saw a brother and father in my husband.” She became more frustrated when her first son, Great, ran away. For days, she looked for him.

 

When Great was found, she said the boy lied that she (mother) wanted to pour hot water on him and had to run away. But when Saturday Telegraph spoke to 12-years-old Great, he said that the suffering was too much and he couldn’t bear to see his mum in constant pains, so he thought if he ran away, luck might smile on him and then, he would come back to take good care of her.

 

“But I have now promised not to leave her side again, together, we will take care of my siblings,” he said. Perhaps her rejection, coupled with the harassment from her landlady made Osaigbakhome to discover herself. She probably challenged God that she could actually be useful to herself and her environment. With the little money she got from people, she started the liquid soapmaking business and enjoyed a large patronage, and some customers even forgo their balance as a way of encouraging her. She then decided to rent a room. It was a hellish experience. Her church refused to help on the excuse that the Nigerian economy was not friendly.

 

“They told me to be asking individuals for help inside the church but I refused, instead, I went out to my customers, asking them for loan and I promised to pay back by supplying them my products to cover the loans they gave me.” According to her, no landlord or landlady agreed to give her accommodation on the excuse that she is physically challenged.

 

The one that agreed insisted on, “two years rent just to discourage me, but my God rose to the challenge, I was able to pay N260,000 for two years with legal and agent agreement   fees. It is the next rent that I am trusting God for,” she said. From there, she was able to rent a room. Seeing that life had smiled on Osaigbakhome, her husband returned and impregnated her. However, when the pregnancy was in its second month, the man fled and left no contact.

 

“There was no means of reaching him and his people were also not responsive,” she added. Even at that, Osaigbakhome doesn’t know if getting a decent apartment was a blessing or a curse as she is no longer able to display her products for people to see and buy with ease.

 

She said her landlady had barred her from displaying her products in front of the house. MOTHER Meanwhile, Osaigbakhome’s mother, Lucy, told our correspondent that she believed her 36-year-old daughter got deformed because of the accident she had while she was pregnant. She said: “I almost died as a result but it was God that miraculously delivered and kept me alive with the baby.” “She was deformed right from birth.

 

I felt so bad and terrible when I saw her condition. I cried for weeks over her but I was consoled by the doctors, nurses and family members to accept her condition as it was not of my make but God who brought her to me understands why she is that way.” At the General Hospital on Sapele Road, Benin City, where she was delivered of her (Uhunoma), she said the medical personnel told her that the condition was not as a result of her accident but natural causes and that there was nothing anyone could do about it.

 

“My husband, (her father) completely rejected the baby and abandoned us to our fate. I was left alone to cater for her with help from my family members. We are farmers and petty traders and live on whatever we are able to gather from our farm and trading,” she said. But as she grows up, Mrs. Lucy explained that her daughter noticed the difference between herself (Uhunoma) and other children of her age and people around her and this made her to keep to herself. She said her daughter kept questioning her about her condition (deformity) “I did my best to explain things to her and the circumstances surrounding her birth,” the mother said.

 

With time, she her daughter accepted her condition and tries to make the best out of her life but years later, she ran away from home and didn’t know where she was until some years ago, according to her.

 

Mrs. Osaigbakhome expressed gratitude that she has reunited with her daughter and restored their relationship and they are now in good talking terms. According to her mother, it is unfortunately for her, that the man who impregnated her, disappeared into the thin air and left alone in the world to look after children and herself. She therefore appealed to Nigerians and government to assist her daughter. “I am appealing to the government and public spirited persons to come to her aid in order for her to be able to look after her children and herself. She is interested in trading but need money to start off. I will be happy if anyone could kindly help to fund her business and help put smiles on her face and her children, including me,” she pleaded.

 

 

IN-LAW

 

When our correspondent spoke with Mr. Adeyemi Adegbaye, who said he was Sanya’s uncle, he said: “I relate well with her, called to congratulate her when she delivered her last baby.”

 

He added that he did not know Sanya’s whereabouts since she left Osaigbakhome adding that he would call a family meeting to discuss how she (Osaigbakhome) could be assisted.

 

“But I promise that I am going to call for meeting with Oladoke’s mother and other members of the family to see what could be done about Osaigbakhome’s situation,” he promised.

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Collapsed bridge: ATBU Gubi campus doesn’t look like university, everything is poor –Students

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Collapsed bridge: ATBU Gubi campus doesn’t look like university, everything is poor –Students

Bau chi Students of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University where a bridge collapsed recently killing some students have said that the school does not look like a university and that facilities on the campus are far from adequate. The collapse of the bridge was as a result of a downpour in the state, which lasted for some hours. Speaking to Saturday Telegraph under anonymity a 100 level student in the Department of Agriculture Economic and Extension from Kogi State Hadiza Usman Ishaya (not real name) said the school had been taken over by reptiles.

 

 

Ishaya shared her experience of the bridge collapsed with Saturday Telegraph: “On Monday night at 11:30 pm students were coming back to hostel after a heavy rainfall, then a bridge that we used to take collapsed. The place is a very local village and it has a big hole and when rain falls, heavy wind blows. The place will be filled up with water like a river, people will then put a bridge for students to pass through. People were trying to get back to hostels so that the rain would not drench them, that was when the bridge collapsed.

 

Students were on the bridge, some died and some were injured. “I know eight students died but later they told me they were 10. I only know three of them because they were from my state, two girls and one boy. Sama, Joe and the other one her nickname was Ivy.

 

It was very painful death. I knew them, we stayed together, used to gist together. I don’t even feel they are gone. I still feel very sad. It was bad news I thought it would never come to me.” Pleading with the school authorities to build better facilities, she added: “ATBU should make a better bridge, the bridge that collapsed was a metal bridge.

 

At least they should make a better bridge   for us and they should make transportation easy for us because the road that we are supposed to ply is very long. We really need a better road, even transportation from Yelwa campus to Gubi is poor, boarding bus from Gubi to Yelwa is terrible. We really need a better transportation system; we really need help in our school. “The school is far in a bush, you see reptiles everywhere, you see animals. Reptiles bite our students and the school never helps

 

 

. When I took my friend to the clinic one day, she was not feeling fine, they gave her injection and she was reacting but when we tried to tell them, they left us at the clinic. They left us at the clinic all alone. They don’t have nurses on night duty, no light, everything in the school is poor, it doesn’t look like a university, no gate nothing, nothing.” Another student, Musa Mohamed, who spoke with our correspondent said: “The university is faraway from Bauchi town, the place is still a bush. We have bad roads and we see wild animals every day.

 

We. Have no fence and the security is poor. Speaking on the bridge collapsed, Musa said: “It was a sad experience the students will not want to have again; you see the river flows to the dam and it will take God’s grace to survive that dam. “Our school looks like a bush but I believe with time, development will come to the area and the issues of reptiles and wild animals everyday will be over.” On its part, the management of ATBU said that none of the students was still missing following the bridge collapse in the institution.

 

The Vice Chancellor Muhammad Abdullazees who received the Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed Abdulakadir during a condolence visit on Gubi Campus said only three students died in the incident and not four. He said the students had written to the management requesting for a footpath from the hostel to the lecture halls as the main road was   very far.

 

He said: “The management felt that it was necessary to construct a metal bridge that will take between 10 and 15 people at a time. This is not meant for static loads but for dynamic loads, that means you don’t stand on it, you just move on it. “From the report we received from some of the students, the rain had stopped and the students were about crossing and they found the scene excellent to take self- ies, so they started from two and before long there were more than 30 students standing on the bridge and it was not meant for people to stand on.

 

“Based on our records, no student is missing for now; the confirmed dead people are three, two from Kogi State and one from Benue State, two females and a male and they were all from Business Education and Management Studies. The Police, the DSS and the state government were proactive, they did a lot for us. This is the first time the state government is promptly responding to problems that have affected the university.”

 

Bauchi State Governor Bala Abdulakadir while commiserating with the families of the deceased and the management and entire student of ATBU over the unfortunate incident, pledged his administration’s intervention on the collapsed bridge. Speaking through Speaker,

 

Bauchi State House of Assembly, Abubakar Suleiman, the governor said he was very sad. He however condemned students’ response, which led to a protest and destruction of some school properties as “uncalled for.” “The unfortunate thing was the reaction of the students who are blaming the management or the VC for the loss.

 

A of us know that it was as a result of a natural disaster, so I see no reason why the students should have protested about it but I am sure the management is on top of the situation. We needed to come here yesterday (Tuesday) but when we were preparing to come, we learnt that the students were protesting and we were advised that it was not safe for us to come here and that was why we couldn’t.” He said, when he met with the Students Union’s leaders, they gave him some of their demands, which include road construction and a bridge.

 

The president National Union of Bauchi State Students (NUBASS), Comrade Ibrahim Hashimu Abdullahi, made a passionate appealed to both the state and federal governments to come to the aid of students on Gubi campus by building a befitting bridge and improve on transportation system of the school.

 

The union leader made the appeal during his visit to Governor Abdulakadir, at the Government House Bauchi to register their grievances Abdullahi further appealed for the provision of health facilities and construction of boreholes in the university in order to alleviate the sufferings of the numerous students on Gubi ATBU campus Responding, the governor appealed to members of the union to consider the recent case collapsed of bridge on Gubi campus of the ATBU as an act of God. President Tiv community Bauchi Mr. Austine Tsenzuul said they received the news of the death of their daughter, a student at ATBU Gubi campus, with a great shocked.

 

He said: “We understand that the bridge linked the hostel and the main campus. One wonders why an institution of that magnitude would have a monkey bridge instead of having a solid bridge that would carry thousands of students on a daily basis. “However, as Christians we attribute that as an act of God.

 

But we are not happy, we are sad, very sad and we are making arrangements to send somebody to the ATBU to find out the arrangements that have been made to convey the corpse, because traditionally, we don’t bury our dead who are grownups out the side Benue.

 

When we confirm that, we will be able to convey the corpse to Benue to the parents. The parents have already been contacted but this is our position, and as I told you, we are very sad but then it is an act of God. Speaking on compensation for the families of the dead, he said: “As a father myself, as a brother and a community leader, we know what it means to train a child. I believe all of you have children too, training a child from nursery, primary to the university is expensive, and naturally we consider it as an investment but this is the end.

 

There is nothing we can do, all of us would die in any case. “At this time, we will not make a categorical statement, we will wait and see what the university management will do before we take any step, because we consider it as a grievous mistake on the part of the university”.

 

On a telephone call to the family of one of the deceased, Blessing Torhile, 20, one of three girls in a family of five, her elder brother, Terungwa Torhile said: “We are on our way to Tse’tohile in Katsina Allah Local Government of Benue State with her remains for burial on Friday (August 9) in our village.” He added that: “For now, we have nothing to say to the university authorities or any other person until after her burial. Even then we will wait to hear from the university before any action.”

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How we delivered 10-year-old rape victim of her baby –Doctor

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How we delivered 10-year-old rape victim of her baby –Doctor

The news about a 10-year-old orphaned girl displaced by Fulani herdsmen attack, and who delivered a baby girl after having been raped hit the airwaves recently Little Masenengen Targba is one of thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) taking refuge in Jor Fada, one of the unofficial camps not captured by the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) on the outskirts of North Bank area of Makurdi metropolis.

 

The victim got impregnated by a paedophile, Terna Taga, after relocating along with her uncle to the North Bank area of Makurdi. It was here she was allegedly raped and got her pregnant. It was gathered that Masenengen was in labour for three days before her uncle took her to the General Hospital, North Bank, Makurdi, where a Good Samaritan took her photograph and posted her story on the social media. Her story immediately caught the attention of Ukan Kurugh, a humanitarian activist, who alongside other activists went to the hospital and transferred her to the Foundation Hospital in Makurdi where she was delivered of her baby weighing 2.5kg through Caesarean Section.

 

Our correspondent spoke to some humanitarian activists, Chief Medical Director of Foundation Hospital and the Police. He also captures the contribution of the Benue State government in providing assistance to the little girl. Speaking to Saturday Telegraph, the Chief Medical Director of the Foundation Hospital, Dr. Michael Ijiko, said even though the girl was small, she could still breastfeed her baby.

 

Dr. Ijiko, a gynaecologist, said the little girl was in labour for three days when she was first brought to the General Hospital at North Bank and dumped there with nobody to take care of her. “She began to have some challenges and because of the peculiarity of the case, some humanitarians who got to know about the issue brought her to this hospital. It was about midnight and when I came, a surgery was done and we finished about 3am the next day”. “It was a sad situation indeed.

 

We did the surgery because there was no way that baby could have come out because the girl is small; she couldn’t have delivered through the vagina and as at the time we saw her, she was already developing some complications.

 

The bladder was already overstretched, and at any time it could have given way and that could have caused her VVF which is another difficult situation. “We understand that she had not done any form of antenatal, the pregnancy was not supervised though it was uneventful because it only came at the time she was in labour. The surgery was however successful and she is doing everything fine. The baby too is very fine, but the problem with the baby is that it stayed in the birth canal for too long.” When asked whether it is possible for the girl to breastfeed her baby at that age, Dr. Ijiko said she could do so.

 

“Yes, she can. You know, child birth is a physiological thing. Pregnancy, labour and child birth are all physiological phenomenon so the body gets to adjust itself. A lot of people have been raising issues concerning the age but we have seen a scenario these days where younger females are beginning to menstruate at very young ages. In the past, you see a woman first sees her menstrual period may be while in the secondary school but nowadays, it keeps going down and it is about eight, nine or 10 years now.

 

“For her, at least she started seeing her menses quite early and when that starts, pregnancy becomes possible because you have begun to ovulate. So that was what happened because once you are pregnant, all the organs begin to go down and hormones that are secreted in pregnancy that also help the breast to become mature even beyond what it should have been based on the age, are heightened. So, she has a well-developed chest and so she can breastfeed her baby.”

 

Meanwhile, National Coordinator of Jireh Doo Foundation, Mrs. Josephine Habba, a civil society activist, who was at the hospital told Saturday Telegraph that the victim (Masenengen) has named the perpetrator. Mrs. Habba said she had written to the state government requesting the governor and his wife to take custody of the two children and look after them until they grow up.

 

“I have written to the Ministry of Women Affairs for the immediate takeover of this case by the governor and his wife because it is unfortunate to have a 10-year-old girl who is an orphan, give birth in the state. “In fact, the whole state should support this girl to become the hero that she is meant to be. And my own advice is that the governor and his wife should take over these two children and look after them up till the time that they will be very proud to be identified with this story.” Meanwhile, the Governor’s wife through her pet project, the Eunice Spring of Life Foundation, (ESLF) has offset the medical bills of the child-mother.

 

Mrs. Ortom who was represented by the Foundation’s board member, Dr. Magdalyne Dura, explained that the action was in furtherance of ESLF’s commitment to supporting most needy persons to live healthy and decent lives. Expressing displeasure over the abuse of a 10-year-old leading to her pregnancy and delivery of a child, the ESLF founder stated that her Foundation would work closely with the Ministry of Women Affairs among other partners to bring the perpetrator to justice. Noting rising cases of sexual and genderbased violence, the governor’s wife said c o n c r e t e actions inc l u d i n g advoc a cy and sensitisation would be deepened to arrest the trend.

 

In the meantime, the Police in Makurdi have confirmed the arrest of an 18-year-old man, Terna Taga, who allegedly defiled and impregnated the girl. Benue Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Catherine Anene, said that Taga was arrested in North Bank area of Makurdi. She said the suspect was in custody for further investigations.

 

“The command will decide on the next line of action after full interrogation and investigation into the case, she said.” Speaking with journalists after he was paraded by the state Commissioner of Police alongside 14 other suspected criminals, the alleged rapist, Terna Taga, an SS1 student of Comprehensive Secondary School, Nasarawa State, confirmed that she he slept with the minor ‘only two times.’ Terna, who hails from Gwer West Local Government area of the state, narrated to Saturday Telegraph how it happened.

 

Taga said: “Masenengen came to my house and said she was hungry but didn’t have money to buy food and eat, I gave her money but did not have sex with her that day.” “The next day, she came and slept in my house because according to her, she had nowhere to sleep that night because her parents locked the house and threw her outside. “It was towards December last year that I slept with her. I slept with her two times. So, when my brother said the girl mentioned my name as the person that raped and impregnated her, I decided to go to the hospital to see her and that was where the police arrested me.”

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UNICEF, NOA, mobilizing for essential family practices

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UNICEF, NOA, mobilizing for essential family practices

 

I

t is one thing to conceive a lofty programme but entirely a different ball game to reach the target audience with the effective implementation of the programme.

Unlike other government and institutional programmes, which fail at the level of implementation, the message of the Essential Family Practice, EFP, of the UNICEF using the National Orientation Agency (NOA), as vehicle for awareness creation, has been enthusiastically received by the women which explained its permeation in most communities and families in Abia State.

 

Women have been known to be effective mobilisers in the community and family naturally. Any programme that gets the support of women will to a large extent succeed. The partnership between UNICEF and the National Orientation Agency (NOA), has successfully taken the enlightenment on the essential family practices to several communities and women groups in Abia State.

 

 

The Social Mobilisation Technical Committee (SOMTEC) of the Community Governance Structure (CGS), led by the Abia State Director of NOA, Mrs. Ngozi Okechukwu, took the campaign to Igbere in Bende Council Area and the Deeper Life Bible Church, region headquarters, Umuahia last week, where the women and the church held their meeting.

 

Addressing the gathering at Igbere, Mrs Okechukwu said the programme targets chairmen, women leaders, and youth leaders of selected town unions.

 

 

According to the NOA boss: “The continual repetition of this project indicates that changes in the structure of community governance demand renewed strategies to drive the UNICEF sensitization at the grassroots.”

She explained that community governance structures are leaders of the communities who have enormous powers that can “affect policy outcomes that suit the needs of the community.”

 

 

She observed and rightly so, that though community leadership and community governance were strategic to developmental projects, they were often neglected.

 

 

“Over the years, different structures and platforms engaged in dialogue predominantly centred on material infrastructures such as roads, electricity and water supply across different spectra of the community,” she observed, but lamented that such discussions were not focused on child development and maternal health, a development which she noted posed a serious challenge to the adoption of the essential family practices by communities.

It is against this backdrop and the need to raise the profile of child survival and development that UNICEF in collaboration with the NOA and other partners is convening high profile community influencers across the state this year.

The expectation is that the convened community leaders/influencers have adequate knowledge of at least five essential practices and pass it across to other community members.

 

The major thrust of the five EFPs is: Exclusive breastfeeding, immunization, antenatal and postnatal care, adequate health care for sick children and proper waste excreta disposal.

 

 

To achieve the set target, UNICEF mandated NOA to ensure that at least 31,999 women across the state are properly sensitised to memorize the five essential family practices.

 

 

It must be emphasized that raising and nurturing healthy children is the cornerstone of human progress, of overcoming the obstacles that poverty, violence, disease, ignorance and discrimination place in a child’s way.

 

 

It is expected that at the end of the programme mothers and caregivers would have adequate knowledge of the five essential family practices and achieve significant increase in knowledge, attitude and skills of childbearing mothers, caregivers, parents and grandmothers of EFPs, among others.

She also told the participants at the Deeper Life Bible Church weekly prayer meeting that the programme was born out of UNICEF’s concern for the health of mother and child.

 

 

Taking the sessions on safe motherhood, immunization, proper child healthcare and antenatal care, the Abia State Health Educator, Mrs Meg Onwu, warned against patronizing traditional birth attendants who she said lacked the requisite training to handle emergencies and birth complications.

She urged the child bearing mothers to register at the nearest health centre soon after conception.

 

 

 

Onwu said pregnant women should visit a health centre at least four times before the delivery date.

“The first time she visits, she is given tetanus toxide, which prevents convulsions on mother and child. The second visit will be a month after, and she will be vaccinated against infections. This vaccination protects for three years. The third visit protects for five years while the fourth will protect the mother for 10 years,” she said.

 

 

The fifth visit, she explained will protect the woman throughout the childbearing age.

 

 

 

 

Onwu told the women that immunization begins as soon as the child is born, “six hours from the labour room.”

 

 

The first immunization, she further explained, protects the child against infection from the first contact with the environment and people.

 

 

The child should be given OPV to prevent poliomyelitis, BCG vaccine to prevent tuberculosis which she said was the cause of hunchback.

 

 

She also emphasized the need to complete the immunization dosage and to ensure it is not given on the buttocks but the laps. For instance, the complete dose of yellow fever vaccine is six times and at nine months.

 

 

“The danger of not completing the dosage is that when there is an outbreak even the immunized children would be affected,” she told them.

 

Mrs Chinwe Eke, State Baby Friendly Initiative Coordinator, took the gathering on breastfeeding insisting that the baby be fed with the first yellowish breast milk with cholesterol 30minutes after birth.

 

 

She said the first breast milk helps the baby to pass the first black excreta and also protects against infection. It also helps the placenta to come out easily.

 

Mothers were reminded of the need to do exclusive breastfeeding for at least six months. She explained that the water the baby needs is also in the breast milk, so no water should be given to the baby.

 

 

“Immediate feeding of the baby with breast milk helps the breast to flow early and faster,” she pointed out.

 

 

Eke also taught the women the proper position to carry the baby during breastfeeding as well as ensure that one breast is sucked dry before offering the next one.

 

Mr Theophilus Opara, of the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA), stressed the need for proper human waste/faecal disposal.

He took the women through the proper conduct required for healthy living for every member of the family, especially women and children, saying families should build toilets that can be flushed with water but preferably ventilation improved pit, VIP, toilet.

 

 

At the end of the day, the women and participants were excited with the enlightenment session and promised to carry the message home for implementation.

 

 

Mrs Felicia Dimgba, President General of the home branch of the Ezumezu Iyom Igbere, said she was delighted with the programme.

 

 

“As a matter of fact, the programme is all embracing. It is so important because most of our women do not know what to do about child birth” she said, and promised to carry the message home to those who did not attend the course.

 

Another women leader, Rose Ekeoma, said the programme was in line with the “same message I have been preaching to them, yet some of them will refuse. Some will come when the pregnancy is already nine months.”

 

 

Ekeoma, from Amiyi Igbere autonomous community, promised like the Secretary of the Igbere women, Mrs Mercy Ejieke, to cascade the message to other women in the community.

 

 

Also, at the end of the session in Deeper Life Bible Church, the Region Overseer, Pastor Nduka Ifeanyi, thanked the group for the programme and prayed for them.

 

 

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Curious boys attack hermaphrodite, Okeke, try to view genitals

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Curious boys attack hermaphrodite, Okeke, try to view genitals

AFTERMATH OF SATURDAY TELEGRAPH’S STORY

 

Mixed reactions have trailed the exclusive report published last week by Saturday Telegraph on Afam Okeke, a 25-year-old hermaphrodite, who last week revealed her worries and experiences over her intersex condition. It was reported that the Enugu-born grew up as a man but gradually developed feminine traits at adulthood.

 

In our exclusive report last week, Okeke said: “My body wasn’t really male or female. I was born with mixed features; people didn’t believe when I told them. What I was raised up in/living in, isn’t really the gender I identified with. Everyone could see in my body language, mannerism, and even in my looks, I am more of a girl/lady.

 

 

As a result, I stopped going outside. As for my genitals, it is complicated. I hate it when people ask me “do you have this or that?” It’s derogatory and annoying.

 

 

“I hide myself, trying to conform to a male gender so no one could tell I was different and I don’t get discriminated, bullied or lynched by the ignorant society I live in. I was always covered in baggy male clothes to hide my body.

 

The reason why I continued living as a male even though I didn’t really conform was because switching over to the female side was going to be difficult for lot of ignorant people in the society I lived in to come to terms with or learn to accept my intersex transition. Finding out I was intersex, I went through lot of trauma, self-hate, isolation, depression and suicidal thoughts as well I contemplated suicide on several occasions just to end it all.

 

 

Last year, I took rodent poison due to depression. When I took it, I felt weak and managed to enter the kitchen to drink palm oil after thinking otherwise. For five hours, I was unconscious and when I woke up, I felt tired and weak. I drank plenty of water and milk. I guess because I took the palm oil early, it helped. I got better the third day but started stooling and vomiting. It was tough, close shave with death.

 

“I felt I was punishing myself for a condition I had no control over and I did not bring it on myself. I felt so odd and unwanted; I didn’t even feel human anymore. I had to cut ties with all friends and family because no one knew or understood what I was going through and I didn’t know how to explain this to anyone.” After the report, some boys around where Okeke stays who could link him with the story laid ambush for him and attacked him on Monday evening in the Garden City. About six of them ran after him and demanded to see all he had ‘under’ him.

 

 

He fell in the process and was lucky to escape as some other people who heard him screaming came to his rescue. Okeke narrated his ordeal: “I was attacked by some guys who have been suspicious of me, and the story they read gave them an idea of my intersex condition. I expect they should mind their business but rather, they ran after me and they were actually beating me; remember the time some guys attacked me on the road and trying to find out if I was a man or a woman. It was scary.

 

They even tried to pull down my trousers to see my genitals. I thought that could be my last day and so I fought for my life. Some people who heard me screaming emerged from nowhere and the guys disappeared. I had to move out of my friend’s place and I’m now in the custody of a Non-Governmental Organisation in Port Harcourt. After the incident, I could not report to the police because this could further aggravate the issue.

 

“And on Tuesday, I also witnessed a sad incident in the bank when I when to collect money via Western Union and the cashier was asking me what gender should he fill for me in the form. Male or female or what? I was so humiliated. This was not due to the report but I guess it was my look. Even when I go to market, everyone there will be staring at me laughing and wondering whether I am a male or a female.

 

 

 

The societal effect on my current situation is very annoying. I did not do this to myself and people look at me as if it is my fault. It is really frustrating. “I talk about the society, what about my uncle?

 

My own blood who forced me out of his house, saying I was a witch. He said I was possessed and banned me from coming to his house or seeing his kids. That was after he took me to churches and no pastor said anything negative about me. They only asked about my parents and my background.”

 

 

 

There are however positives for Okeke after the exclusive report last week. Some individuals have responded with the intention of assisting him to overcome the current situation. “They demanded my PayPal account which I do not have but will find a way round it. I pray I have more responses because I wish to sort this issue out quickly and move on with my life. It is really tough but I will be strong to pull through.

 

Many people are also talking to me through my Facebook page ‘Sherry Rai.’ Okeke stressed that there was serious need for education in Nigeria about hermaphrodites. She argued that it was a condition and not a disease.

 

 

“People have HIV Aids and walk around normally but people stigmatize hermaphrodites and call them all sorts of derogatory names instead of trying to help.

 

 

I belong to so many groups on the Internet and I have learnt so much, on my Facebook page, I try to educate people and some of them talk to me directly. “I was born a man and I developed feminine traits along the line. It can be corrected and all I need is to undergo the necessary tests and surgery, I will be fine,” Okeke said.

 

Dr. Bola Adeyemi, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, All Souls Hospital in Lagos, spoke on the way out for Okeke.

 

 

“There is need to determine many things through tests and investigation. Does the person have uterus, ovary and other feminine attributes?

 

“In this case, Okeke is comfortable as a female and so if she does not have vagina, she could go for Vagina Noplatic. It is being done at the University Hospital in Ibaban (UCH). With investigation, we should have other places in Nigeria. We have competent hands in the country to handle all medical cases but people do not respect doctors here. It is unfortunate.

 

 

“The case here is redeemable through several tests and surgery and the person will live a normal life,” Dr. Adeyemi explained Okeke is now considering to relocate to Lagos to avert further attacks and embarrassment. “I learnt Lagos is a free place where people mind their business no matter your condition.

 

Other places are not like that and it is sad,” he said. Interestingly, the hermaphrodite had a relationship with a white man who also has intersex condition. “

 

 

“He is white and we met in Abuja but somehow flashback from his past and some other personal issues affected our relationship. We were planning to get married but it did not work. I was the female in the relationship,” he said.

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SUSPECTS WHO DRUG DRIVERS, STEAL THEIR CARS: We target only greedy cab drivers who like free beer

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SUSPECTS WHO DRUG DRIVERS, STEAL THEIR CARS: We target only greedy cab drivers who like free beer

Operatives of the Inspector- General of Police (IGP) Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT), have arrested two members of a syndicate, who allegedly specialised in drugging cab drivers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, in order to steal their vehicles.

 

The syndicate came under IRT radar after it drugged a serving soldier to death, quickly buried him to conceal their crime and then stole his Peugeot 406 saloon car. The soldier, Sergeant Richard Akaeze, was said to have been using his car as cab during his off-days to augment his salary.

 

When his colleagues couldn’t find him, they petitioned the IGP, who then instructed IRT unit, headed by a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Abba Kyari, to find Akaeze and those behind his disappearance.

 

The search for Akaeze, led to the arrest of Sanusi Bala and Nurudeen Ibrahim. A police source said: “The syndicate used to lure their victims to drinking joints around the FCT, where they drug their drinks or food before leaving with their vehicles. The syndicate made a mistake when it caught sergeant Akaeze in its web and ended up giving him an overdose that eventually killed him. The suspects buried his corpse in a yet to be disclosed site. They made away with his car and phone.”

 

The IRT operatives, while tracking Akaeze’s stolen phone, discovered that it was being used by one of the suspects, Bala. Incidentally, Bala owns a car stand in Kaura Local Government Area of Zamfara State. He is also a worker with the local government in the state.

 

 

The source said: “Bala confessed after his arrest that his friend, Ibrahim, based in Abuja, gave him the phone when he brought a Peugeot 406 car for him to buy. He said that he didn’t buy the car because he had no money at that time. Bala said that aside his car business and working as a clerk with a local government, that he has taken part in several car thefts with Ibrahim at the FCT, where they drugged victims before stealing their vehicles. He, however, denied taking part in the operation that led to the death of Akaeze.”

 

 

It was further gathered that Bala assisted IRT operatives in arresting Ibrahim in Abuja. Bala told the operatives that the targets of the syndicate were greedy cab drivers, who enjoy free drinks. Bala (37), who is married with eight children, said: “I’m a civil servant. I work at the finance department of my local government as a clerk.

 

 

I have a friend, Nurudeen Ibrahim, who went to the same secondary school with me. He called one day, to tell me that he has a Golf 3 Saloon Car for sale. I bought it from him for N220, 000. Three months later, he called again and asked me to buy a Honda Civic car for N230, 000.

 

Five months later, he called again and sold a Peugeot 206 to me. Last year, he called and asked me to join him in stealing cars since I was just enjoying the sales. I accepted.” Bala said that when they got to Abuja,   they bought a drug, Tributan. Disclosing the modus operandi of the syndicate, Bala said they pose as passengers to pick a cab.

 

 

While in the cab, they would deliberately engage the driver in a conversation. They try to be friendly with the driver, and in the middle of the friendly chat, would invite him to a bar to share a drink with them. Bala said: “While in the bar drinking, we would ask him to get us something we left behind in his car. When he leaves, we would drug his drink or food. He falls asleep after drinking or eating the food.

 

 

We would take him in his car and dumped him on the outskirt of the town. We than disappear with his car.” Recounting his first operation with Ibrahim, Bala said: “My first operation with Ibrahim was the stealing of a Peugeot 406 wagon. We picked the cab from Nyaya and took the driver to a popular garden in Gariki area of Abuja. We got him drugged and made away with his vehicle. I sold the car for N320, 000 and gave my friend N160, 000.”

 

He said that in the second operation, they went to Dutse Alhaji, where they picked a Golf 2 saloon car after they had negotiated with the driver. They took him to a bar, where they bought him drinks and pepper soup.

 

 

They drugged his pepper soup and left him sleeping in the bar. They made away with his car and sold it for N160,000.” Bala said that three weeks later, he discovered that Ibrahim did a solo operation. In that operation, Ibrahim stole a Peugeot 406 Saloon Car, which he later took to Bala and urged him to buy it. Bala said: “I told him that I wasn’t interested. He took the vehicle away and sold it to someone else in Zamfara State. But before he left with the car to Zamfara, I searched it and found a small phone. I told him that I needed the phone.

 

He gave it to me. I took the phone to Kano and gave it to my friend, Lawan. Two weeks later, Lawan called and told me that he was in Zamfara to see me. I didn’t know that he came with policemen. When I went to see him, I was arrested.” Nurudeen Ibrahim (42), married with two children, claimed that he joined crime because his elder brother, a Brigadier General with the Nigeria Army, drove him out of his farm where he was working. He said: “I was a supervisor in his farm. He even married a wife for me and I had two children. When we started having issues, I left the farm.

 

Since I had no means of feeding my family, I went to a friend, Abdulrasheed, who was into the business of drugging cab drivers in order to steal their vehicles. I called and informed him that I was jobless. He asked me to join him in his business. In our first operation, we stole two cars, Nissan Almeria and Opel Vetral. I was ar-rested after that operation.

 

 

I went back to my village; but after a while, I came back and began the business of drugging cab drivers to steal their vehicles. I stole four cars, Honda Civic, Toyota Avensis, Golf and Peugeot 206. I sold the vehicles to Sanusi.”

 

 

Ibrahim said that he invited Bala to join him in the business because he felt that the job would be easier if they were two. “Whenever we have a target, who is usually a cab driver, I tell him that he might have to stop for me to buy something in a big super market. My partner would then tell the cab driver that I was very rich. He would also tell the taxi driver that I enjoy drinking beer.

 

 

“He would tell him that whenever I was drunk, I used to give cab drivers any amount of money they asked for. A greedy taxi driver would fall for this trick; he would follow us to a bar, where we would drug him and then steal his car. Those that are not greedy usually wouldn’t fall for such tricks.

 

 

I had a partner that was working with me, but he died of HIV/ AIDS. I had to bring in Sanusi. We stole three cars, a Toyota Avensis, a Golf 2 and Peugeot 406 Wagon. Sanusi bought all the cars and we shared the money. Later on, I went on to do three operations; I collected a Peugeot 406 saloon car from Maraba, a Mitsubishi car from Jabi and a Honda UK, from Garki areas of Abuja.

 

I sold the Honda UK and the Mitsubishi in Kano for N320, 0000. I wasn’t the person that drugged the missing soldier. I didn’t take the Peugeot 406 Saloon car to Sanusi. Sanusi is the only person who can explain where he got the phone. I have also been a victim. There was a time I tried drugging a victim and erroneously took the drink. I got high and slept off in the bar. The cab driver, who I was supposed to rob, stole all the money in my pockets.

 

 

He also stole my phones and disappeared with them.”

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Inside Anambra cattle farms

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Inside Anambra cattle farms

In the run up to the last presidential election in the country, the state of the economy was high on the agenda of the presidential candidates.

 

 

The presidential hopefuls went about town campaigning for a new point of departure and a way forward towards salvaging the country’s economic predicament.

 

 

However, it is clear that the efforts to get the economy kicking again through agriculture is facing serious challenges with the South failing to leverage on palm oil, rubber, cocoa and other resources, while the North abandoned its groundnut pyramids contending that cattle farming is now the main stay of the Northern economy.

 

 

But due to climate change, the Northern vegetation has been depleted and the so-much pressure on what is left of its vegetation has been reduced to a near desert encroachment and deepening its situation is the close extinction of the Lake Chad Basin.

 

 

This led to the mass exodus of the Fulani herdsmen down South, which still has a lot of arid land for their cattle to graze on which has thrown up another problem – frequent clashes between the farmers and cattle rearers.

 

 

This fresh problem has forced the issue onto the front burner with various ideas springing up on how to curtail it.

 

 

Economic concepts such as cattle ranching, cattle colony and now Ruga have come into the picture with the South East area through its apex socio-cultural organisation, Ohaneze Ndigbo insisting that its vast rich vegetation cannot be surrendered on the altar of national unity.

 

And now in a bid to reduce its dependence on cow meat by the Igbos of the South East the area have now recalled that they at some point had their own cattle known as Efi Igbo or Evi Igbo.

 

 

Today almost all parts of the South East have embarked on Igbo cattle farming hence vindicating the agrarian policy of the former East Central State propounded by late Michael Okpara the then Premier of the Eastern Nigeria.

 

 

Before the Nigerian Civil War, cattle farming was executed in commercial quantity along with goat and sheep herding and virtually every home stead can boast of 10 to 20 Igbo cattle.

 

 

Efi Igbo was revered and its consumption was highly celebrated. Efi Igbo is only slaughtered when a great man of accomplishment is taking a title or is being buried.

 

 

Areas in the South East such Imo and Abia states also celebrated Efi Igbo which is also used for cleansing when the land is desecrated ordinarily the people of Imo and Abia state prepared stock fish known as Okporoko in Igbo parlance.

 

 

The stock fish is never missing in the pot of every Igbo woman and the man of the house must have Okporoko in his strategic reserve in anticipation of a special guest or a great friend visiting.

 

 

Sad as it may appear, the civil war did not help matters as the war sent most of the Efi Igbo cattle ranch and farms to near extinction.

 

 

According to Prof. Arinze Ezekwe of the Department of Animal Science University of Nigeria, Nsukka: “It is regrettable that the Civil War was one of the major factors that affected the Igbo cattle when soldiers on both sides of the war sacked communities and killed the cattle which they used as food.”

 

 

He lamented that in the present day Igbo land, Efi Igbo are only being kept by older people insisting that the younger generation most show interest in sustaining the animals otherwise they would go into extinction when the older generation pass on.

 

 

Still on the Nigerian Civil War, the economic blockade introduced by the then regime of General Yakubu Gowon against the then Bite of Biafra banned with heavy sanctions the importation of stock fish which Ndigbo preferred to the Fulani cattle and ultimately compelled the area to choose it as the only alternative and with the erosion of time Ndigbo abandoned even the local Ewu Igbo (Igbo goat) and Atulu Igbo (the Igbo ram) for their Northern species hence sentencing most of the Igbo race to eating beef from cows brought from the North.

 

 

However, this current consciousness has given impetus to the diversification of the South East economy from normal buying, selling and manufacturing to the Efi Igbo farm business.

 

 

Already three Igbo business moguls have acquired several hectares of green vegetation for their cattle ranching.

 

 

In Ebonyi State cattle ranching has been there for ages with private farmers managing their business with relish.

 

 

But Anambra State appears to have injected the much desired impetus for the rearing of Igbo cattle and Governor Willie Obiano is not making any mistake about this project.

 

 

Agriculture on the inception of his first term in office was one of the pillars of his administrations’ five point agenda and enablers.

 

 

His success story in Ugu; vegetable cultivation and bitter leaf,

 

 

Olugbu is already a commodity for export in the last five years.

 

 

Today his administration has commenced the rearing of Efi Igbo in commercial quantities and farm settlements are bound in Umuchu, Umunze and some parts of Omabala coastal region in Anambra South senatorial zone.

There are private Efi Igbo farms in parts of Ogbaru Local Government Area and also in some parts of Idemili North and South council areas.

 

 

When this reporter visited Agulu town in Anaocha Local Government Area over 80 head of Efi Igbo were seen grazing and at night to all come to settle at the Nkwo Agulu village market till dawn.

 

 

Ironically the Efi Igbo do not stray onto peoples’ farmland to graze rather they visit the wild areas to graze without any herdsman shepherding them.

 

 

Pa Cyril Amaobi aka Uwadiegwu is a Dibia meaning a traditional priest attached to the Agulu Deity called Haaba.

 

 

He took Sunday Telegraph round the unfarmed areas where the Efi Igbo were grazing and he told the story of the Agulu cattle.

 

 

“We use to have Efi Igbo in our homes in the past but some people complained that the cows use to destroy things so in 1980 Agulu banned the domestication of the cattle. These cattle that you see are a mixture of private cattle and cattle belonging to Haaba.

 

 

“If you desecrate the land or there is taboo on the land you must provide Efi Igbo to Haaba for cleansing along with some other things. Some people that own Efi Igbo also allow them to graze and move along with the Haaba cattle and you use a certain mark to identify your own so that you do not commit yourself by mistakenly killing the ones belonging to the deity,” he explained.

 

 

Amaobi noted that an average size of Efi Igbo is sold at N150,000 each while a full grown one could cost as much as N200,000 to N250,000.

 

“We have over 80 of them in Agulu and they do not harm anyone and they do not go to people’s farm lands. They do not have herdsmen controlling them. They go into the bush to graze unlike the ones owned by the Fulani people,” he added.

 

 

 

He further explained that the Efi Igbo farmers also interface with their colleagues in other parts of Igbo land noting that at the moment there are plans on to form a kind of association to encourage the business.

 

 

At Umuchu community in Aguata Local Government Area, a silent revolution is indeed taking place as regards Efi Igbo.

 

 

Prince Ugochukwu Okpalaeke the CEO of Eagle Food Processing Industries in Umuchu has been one of the propagators of Efi Igbo rearing and he is currently partnering with the Anambra State government.

 

 

Recently the Anambra State Commissioner for Agriculture Mr. Nnamdi Onukwuba paid a working visit to the farm where he announced that Governor Obiano’s administration is desirous of providing aids for farmers to go into full scale cattle rearing with emphasis on breeding Igbo specie of cows.

 

 

Before now Prince Okpalaeke, who is also Chairman of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) the founder of Osimirri Farm Located at Umunze in Orumba South Local Government Area of the state, called on the governors of the Southeast State to provide farmers with strong support capable of inspiring and motivating them to do more in the business of cattle breeding more especially breeding the Igbo specie cattle known as Efi

 

Igbo.

 

 

He, however, lamenting that rich men are acquiring lands in Igbo land against the pressing need to develop agriculture.

 

 

Prince Okpalaeke told the governors that farmers have the intention and also capable to breed cattle but they are nowhere near what it takes to do the business in terms of facilities like land, man power and funding lamenting that rich men in virtually every place in Igbo land are acquiring lands for other businesses against the interest of all important agricultural development at this point in time.

 

 

He maintained: “As a farmer I can assure that it is possible to breed cattle in Igbo land but the problem is that we don’t have land. Those that have money among us are buying every space to build markets, business plazas, housing estates and petrol filling stations and never show interest in developing farm lands. I appreciate the efforts of our Governor, Chief Willie Obiano towards the improvement of agriculture in Anambra State.

 

 

“Obiano is very friendly with farmers and that inspires and motivates agricultural production in Anambra. Other Commissioners before Onukwuba never visited us here and that is to prove that the governor is in touch with farmers. We have started breeding Efi Igbo with support of the governor, but we need more aids to go further for mass production.

 

 

“My fear remains availability of land because these traders are buying off everywhere and the state has to take note of that. Also in response to the governor’s clarion call on the breeding of Efi Igbo the Children of Farmers Club (CFC) led by Christopher Okwuosa has a settlement ranch at Ogbaru River Niger coastal line and are currently at work awaiting government patronage.”

 

 

Similarly, Nze Okee Igboegbunam in a memo to the state government posited that: “Let the present governments of the Southern states formulate policies that engender mechanization, the Zik/Okpara post-independence Obudu Ranch approach, later up scaled by the government of Donald Duke or, the 1964 Mokwa Cattle Ranch techniques of then North West State, with arrangements for feeder molasses from off the sugar factories at Jebba.

 

 

“Except efforts are geared to reinvent the Obudu ranching stratagem or, the North West/German management of MCR (of a 21st century setting), the farmer vs. herdsmen clashes may not abate.

 

 

“The states Houses of Assembly must as matter of urgency start tampering their current allocations to accommodate cattle ranching intervention.”

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How to checkmate insecurity, by 101-year-old World war II veteran

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How to checkmate insecurity, by 101-year-old World war II veteran

A

t 101 years old, his faculties are intact, neither has his strength abated. Adama Aduku made history recently when the Nigerian Army honoured him as the only survival and veteran of the World War II from the country. For one year (1944 – 1945), he saw action in Egypt, Karachi, Bombay and Bogota.

 

 

Born in 1918, Aduku from Abejukolo, Omala Local Government Area of Kogi State, said he joined the army out of patriotism and the need for vengeance for the king of his domain who, was molested by a uniform man. The eldest of his mother’s three sons, Aduku also said that he joined the military out of personal decision and his father encouraged him.

 

 

“In our time, patriotism was at the heart of our service, unlike the present crop of officers who were motivated by filthy lucre.  “A black soldier called Ochanikawan came to our village and beat up our traditional ruler; nobody could stop him, because he was wearing army uniform.

 

“I was older than this soldier that angered me. If it were it not because of his uniform, I would have beaten him up. People were scared of him, that prompted me to join the military,” he recalled.

 

 

His well to do maternal grandmother tried to dissuade him. This she did by giving him some money to start a business of his own.  However, he turned it down. “That same night, I ran away from home to Makurdi in 1941 to join the army, but I was not enlisted until a year later.

 

 

“We were many that joined the army; they were taken from different tribes. We were taken to Kaduna. We were trained for two years on how to match and fight in the war. Then we were sent to Ibadan on foot as part of the training, we got to Ibadan in 1944. The British recruited us because they cannot walk long distance in the bush.”

 

 

He gave an account of how he and his co – travelers made it to the war front. “We were driven from Eleiyele in Ibadan to Lagos to board a ship at Apapa.  We had no water to drink, but we persevered, until we arrived in Egypt, where we collected water and sailed on through the Red Sea to Bombay in India. We got to Bolgotha and went to a village I cannot recall the name of the village again, we started to fight.  We went to the capital of Japan (Tokyo) and there the war ended.

 

 

“I fought on land walked in Egypt,  Karenchy, Bombay,  Bolgotha, the Indians were on our side, Russia to  fight  Japan, our Commander, was a European, Major Hammer.”

 

 

On how they perceived their enemies during action, he said:  “During attacks, we saw them as they shoot at us, we shot back at them. I shot my enemies with my gun. We trekked, we did not feel it because of the training we had. In fact, the reason why the British took us to the war was, because the white people could not trek long distances.

 

 

“The British were good to us more than the Nigerians. All the villages we went on foot, we had beautiful experiences. We did not feel any harsh weather or came across any of these dangerous animals in the bush. We were fed with spaghetti and we used stick to eat the spaghetti, meat, we had everything in abundance. The British are better than the black man; they took good care of us.”

 

 

“Throughout four years the Second World War lasted, no one died, except one of us who died in the ship as a result of illness.

 

 

“We came back in 1946 and arrived at Ikeja, the place was grown with bush. We cleared the bush. That was where we were paid one pound two shillings after returning from the Second World War.”

 

 

On how he spent the money paid to him, “I used it to buy a bicycle for seven shillings. I rode on the  bicycle to  Idah the headquarters of Igala land, to collect  my seven shillings  gratuity  my country was paying me, but the gratuity was for five months and  it was stopped .

 

 

“Twice during the Civil War, Nigerian soldiers approached me to join the war I refused, because then, they were looking for experienced soldiers that fought in the Second World War, but my colleagues went to join the Civil War. I did not go because after killing the white people in the Second World War I cannot kill my fellow blacks.”

 

 

His romance with his grandmother: “My grandmother insisted again that I should not go to Civil War, I had to honour her and she   gave me money to start my own business. I was dealing on beads and other wares. I bought beads for two shillings and sold it for two shillings and six pence.  I will travel to Lagos, Tinubu Square to buy wares back to Ikogi.

 

 

“But when they stole my 100 pounds and discharge book that I kept in my bag, I ran to Zaria to join the army in 1950.  But I finally left the army in 1957.

 

 

He said that his immrdiate challenge was: “I have not been paid pension till date. I have not had any opportunity to travel outside country since I retired from the army. What I did was to go back to farming.”

 

 

He decried the fact that none of his children nor grandchildren want to join the military: “All my children refused to join army and six are graduates, even my grandchildren too do not want to join the army.”

 

 

According to him: “We were denied access to women. The British told us that the black man have two penis, but when they investigated that black man has one penis, we were allowed to have access to women, and these Indian women were beautiful,” he roared in laughter.

 

 

The secret of his longevity, he went on to say: “Do not smear your hands with evil; God is good while the devil is evil. Please the younger generation should refrain from evil.  I don’t beat my wife, I do not commit adultery.

 

 

“My father Aduku had two wives and ten children, my mother had three, I am the eldest of the three with only sister. My mother died in 1947.

 

 

“My father was a famous hunter and farmer; he killed the buffalo that used to terrorise our village.  A report came to him that a buffalo killed his brother’s, wife, my father held the buffalo by the two horns and asked his brother to cut the legs of the buffalo and the buffalo was killed.

 

 

“I did not go to school; the English I speak now was as a result of the military training I obtained both home and abroad during the Second World War.

 

 

“I got married in 1947 and had my first son in 1949, my wife died and I remarried, I have two wives with 11 children altogether 12 children and many grandchildren.”

 

 

For his exploits during the Second World War, the Nigerian Army recently honoured him along other veterans. They were given medals, plaques and N2 million cash each.

 

 

At the presentation ceremony during the Army Day Celebration held at the Ikeja Cantonment, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai said the Federal Government would pay them their entitlements. “The government is yet to fulfill the promise it made through the COAS. The president promised the veterans of both the Civil and Second World war, in fact, he said that was the purpose of bringing us together on the Nigerian Army Day Celebration, (NADCEL), held on July 6th.”

 

 

On how he heard about the awards, “I was in the village and heard about the celebration on radio and I called my son in Lagos informing him of the information about the retirees.  I left my hometown for Abuja and we met the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo in May in Abuja and he promised that our entitlements will be paid to us in due course.

 

 

“During the meeting with the the Vice President, we were asked who among us fought in the Second World War; I was the only surviving soldier that came out in the whole federation. All the other soldiers had died. That was why they took special interst on me.”

 

 

His nephew and Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Rest and Joy Nigeria Limited, Mr  Jibrin Okelewu said of his uncle: “My mother is the elder sister to him and we are from the  same village. I have always known him as a full time farmer and industrious before he joined the army.

 

 

“Throughout the second world war I was not born. He told me his experience in the war , I was born in 1957, the way he does his things in the village is different from others . When I finished secondary school in 1979, I joined Nigerian Custom Services (NCS) in 1979. So what I learnt from him helped me in the paramilitary days in the NCS.

 

“All our parents in the village including the young ones go to him for an advice. I respect him a lot, whenever I use to go to the village, I rode on motorcycle to the farm to be with him for an hour or more just to listen to him.

 

 

“The experience I garnered from him is helping me in my life. On coming to Lagos, he had visited other army units like the 81 Division Nigerian Army and 9 Brigade Ikeja cantonments, for a proper documentation on him, and he ended up admonishing the officers.

 

 

We are trying to emulate him, because of the type of food he eats is different from ours. “The secret of his longevity is, if he eats, he does not drink water.  Instead, Baba will drink Lipton tea with sugar on every meal each day.  As sugar is a problem to us now, Baba still takes sugar at his age.

 

 

“Sugar to him gives him good health, he said without sugar he would not have stayed this long on earth. So his longevity is a gift from God. Since we grew to know him, Baba has never fallen ill or being rushed to the hospital for admission. All his siblings are very much alive and he does not depend on us to feed rather the young ones depend on him to feed.”

 

 

On how to checkmate insecurity in the country, he suggested that proper training of the troops would go a long way in tackling it.

 

 

“The British were able to win World War II because of the sufficient training they gave their troops. We should be able to do the same now. I’m sure if they (troops) are properly trained and motivated then we should be able to end the war.”

 

 

Another suggestion he made was to recruit the same number of soldiers from each state of the federation and after proper training should be deployed to the borders in order to check the illegal influx of ammunition and weapons into the country.

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DR. OLUROTIMI BADERO: Nigerian who’s the FIRST and ONLY heart, kidney specialist in the world

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DR. OLUROTIMI BADERO: Nigerian who’s the FIRST and ONLY heart, kidney specialist in the world

Olurotimi Badero learnt from an early age to set his own standard. Even though he was remarkably brilliant in school while growing up, his father instilled in him the need to be exceptional in all areas.

That would motivate Badero to practice medicine even in the face of doubts from colleagues and still make a difference. Born in Lagos, Nigeria and currently living in the U.S., Badero is now the only doctor in the world to have full specialist training and certifications in both cardiology and nephrology. In other words, he is the first and only person in the world to become a combined heart and kidney doctor.

Recently named among the top interventional cardiologists in the United States, the Nigerian genius currently holds certifications in six different specialties in medicine. “By training, I specialised in internal medicine, cardiovascular medicine, invasive & interventional cardiology, nephrology and hypertension, interventional nephrology & endovascular medicine, nuclear cardiology as well as peripheral vascular interventions.

Putting all that together, I would like to think of myself as an interventional cardio nephrologist as well as a peripheral vascular interventionalist,” Badero told Financial Nigeria in an interview recently.

The 47-year-old’s journey to the world of medicine began in Nigeria at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Osun state, where he first studied medicine. After completing his undergraduate studies at the University of Ife, he enrolled in the school’s medical programme and graduated in 1997.

He subsequently moved to the United States to attend the State University of New York, where he completed specialty training in internal medicine in 2004, according to Rising Africa.

Two years later, he earned his specialty degree in nephrology at Emory University in Atlanta. But as he began to treat patients in this field, he realised that he wanted to do more than that. “While I was in training at Emory University School of Medicine as a kidney specialist…

I quickly found out that the commonest cause of death for the patients that died was heart disease and not kidney diseases. And we were doing a great job taking care of these patients but ultimately they died from a disease I didn’t have much control of as I would have loved to. That was a challenge I had to embrace being someone, whose decision to be a physician was to make a difference.

I realised it was very difficult for me to make that difference, albeit we were taking care of patients and they were living longer. “So that set the stage for me to decide if I wanted to explore ways of becoming more effective. I started toying with the idea of going back to specialise in cardiology because I really wanted to get to the bottom of the problem,” he told Financial Nigeria. Thus, Badero returned to SUNY to earn his specialty degree in cardiology in 2009.

Three years after, he was accepted into Yale University, where he earned three more specialties: interventional cardiology, peripheral vascular medicine and peripheral vascular convention. “Altogether, I spent 10 years of continuous postgraduate medical training, which I later found out was unprecedented,” he said.

With these qualifications, Badero has now become one of the interventional cardiologists to reckon with in the U.S., a field in medical practice, that has fewer African-Americans and blacks.

His achievements have also caught the eye of many medical organisations, including the Association of Black Cardiologists, which presented Badero with an award for excellence in cardiology in 2008.

The cardio-nephrologist, who is currently on the editorial board of the International Journal of Nephrology & Renovascular Disease, was also named one of Jackson, Mississippi’s best surgeons.

He had, after his training from 2001 to 2010, accepted a position as an interventional cardiologist at Central Mississippi Medical Centre (CMMC) in 2011. There, he performed the first radial coronary angioplasty in CMMC history and treated nephrology patients for two years without additional pay, according to Rising Africa.

That same year, he did a one-year fellowship in interventional nephrology and dialysis before forming Cardiac, Renal & Vascular Associates in 2013. Today, Badero is the Executive Director of Cardiac Renal & Vascular Associates, the Medical Director of St. Joseph Hospice, and he is on the global Advisory Board of the therapeutics experts on Thrombosis and Atherosclerosis, Merck Pharmaceuticals U.S.A.

Badero would never forget how challenging it was when he first moved to the U.S. and decided to pursue medicine. Having to survive, he had to join his uncle’s cab driving business as a driver while many laughed at his dream of wanting to become a doctor in the U.S.

“I drove the cab during the day, and I prepared for my exams at night. I did not have money to buy books, but I used the library. I remember a time I had to eat only bread for 3 days. “It was tough, I wanted to leave America, but I said come what may I will sit for that exam.

I could not afford remedial classes, and this was an exam of three parts that people fail regularly and normally retake several times. The failure rate then for that exam was about 90%”, he was quoted by Nigeriandoctors.

Badero persevered and today, he is using his exceptional skills to improve lives in his community. “I learnt very early in life that a goal without a plan is only a wish and that there is no testimony without a test.

The only time that success comes before work is in the dictionary. I also learnt from my dad the value of hard work, as well as, perseverance and not letting the moments define you but defining the moment by embracing the challenge,” he said.

 

Credit: Face2faceAfrica

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OKEKE, 25-YEAR-OLD MAN: I drank rat poison due to my feminine features

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OKEKE, 25-YEAR-OLD MAN: I drank rat poison due to my feminine features
  • Suffers self-hate, depression, societal stigma
  • Undergoes series of tests, seek help

 

Fate has a way of affecting the life of people positively or otherwise. People talk about luck in all spheres of life and it could work for or against. For 25 years old Afam Okeke, fate or life itself has been cruel. Growing up stage was smooth as a little boy but gradually, feminine traits developed in his body like hips and breasts.

For the purpose of this piece, Okeke popularly called Sherry by friends will be referred to as a lady with feminine pronoun. She said: “I was naive and didn’t know about myself. I was born with a functional penis and scrotum, raised up as a boy and had boy looks too as well as boy’s voice. But I felt so much like a girl and preferred f e m i n i n e things, feminine oriented movies, clothes etc.

My body language: walking, sitting, standing, bending all read female so people used to make fun of me that I was acting like a girl. Sometimes, when I talk, people will hear a girl’s voice, sometimes when they see me, they tell me ‘I look like a girl. I didn’t know what all these meant.

My friends tell me I catwalk like a girl. I didn’t know what all these meant. I wasn’t really close to my parents or siblings. We are three boys and I am the second. My mum used to tell me nothing is wrong with me and I should not worry about what people were saying.

I believed her but sometimes, when I look at myself in the mirror, it seems it’s a girl I am seeing both in face and body. With hips, curves, thighs, girl structure, I was confused because I thought I am a boy and boys don’t have these features.

As puberty came, I started getting sexually attracted to boys. I couldn’t believe it because I watched other boys liking girls. I hide it and tried to fight it out but the feelings were still there. I didn’t tell anyone these things happening to me. I continued faking to be a normal boy but of course people suspect something is wrong with me from my behaviour.

They call me a gay, bullied me and keep away from me. I thought at some point that I was a gay bec a u s e I like b o y s , so I joined g a y group in an online s o c i a l m e d i a , a d d e d gay people, even on Facebook. They told me I am the feminine gay type.

I met the feminine gay type, chatted with them but I couldn’t really relate with them.” Okeke’s case is intersex/ bisexual condition. Intersex is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with any of several variations in sex characteristics including chromosome, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals that do not fit the typical definitions for male or female bodies.

Bisexual or intersex is more prevalent in animals than man according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. It means having physical characteristics intermediate between a true male and a true female Intersex/ bisexual anatomy doesn’t always show up at birth. Sometimes, a person isn’t found to have intersex anatomy until he or she reaches a certain age or finds himself/herself an infertile adult or dies of old age and is autopsied.

Some people live and die with intersex anatomy without anyone (including themselves) knowing. intersex persons may also be assigned and raised up as a girl or boy but then identify with another gender later in life. (this is the case of Okeke), while some continue to identify with their assigned sex at birth.

Intersex conditions/trait or difference of sex development (DSDs) may include, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, five-alpha-reductase deficiency- androgen insensitive syndrome, gonadal dysgenesis, Turner syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome, mullerian agenesis, aphallia, ovotestes etc.

A medical Doctor and the Chief Executive Officer of All Souls Hospitals in Lagos, Dr Bola Adeyemi, said Intersex or Bisexual condition was complex but there are solutions in Nigeria to deal with it.

He noted that many illnesses people rush abroad to treat could be handled by competent doctors in Nigeria. Dr. Adeyemi noted that dealing with intersex issues would start from which sex the person involved thinks he/she belongs. In the case of Okeke, after growing up as a boy, she developed feminine traits including full-grown breasts and she feels more comfortable as a girl than a boy especially because she is attracted to a man sexually.

“There is need to determine many things through tests and investigation. Does the person have uterus, ovary and other feminine attributes? “In this case, Okeke is comfortable as a female and so if she does not have vagina, she could go for Vagina Noplatic. It is being done at the University Hospital in Ibaban (UCH).

With investigation, we should have other places in Nigeria. We have competent hands in the country to handle all medical cases but people do not respect doctors here. It is unfortunate.

“The case here is redeemable through several tests and surgery and the person will live a normal life,” Dr. Adeyemi explained. Okeke, currently in Port Harcourt has undergone a series of tests to determine her status sexually but money has been the handicap for her to achieve it. It was tough for her in her later stage in school and she barely managed to graduate at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology. She read Chemistry.

The stigma in the society has been a strong issue she faced over the years. She added: “I have been hiding my intersex traits for years now pretending to conform to the binary norms. I was scared to come out due to the ignorant, hateful, judgmental and cruel things I read and hear people say when they are talking about intersex.

I picked up courage and decided to come out public to be able to educate people as much as possible and help spread awareness on this issue, to reduce the hate, ignorance, confusion and bullying people like myself go through.

“As a result of my intersex traits, I have been exposed to all sort of public ridicule and hostility by ignorant and intolerant people, since we live in a very shallow and judgemental world; although I knew I was weird, I didn’t really know what it was. I used to think that intersex people, also known as Hermaphrodites, are people born with both genitals until I met lot of informative and inspirational people in intersex groups, who taught me that intersex is varied with a lot of classifications.

It doesn’t just deal with genitals alone. “My body wasn’t really male or female. I was born a mix, people didn’t believe when I told them. I was raised up in/living in, isn’t really the gender I identified with.

Everyone could see in my body language, mannerism, and even in my looks, I am more of a girl/lady. As a result, I stopped going outside. As for my genitals, it is complicated. I hate it when people ask me “do you have this or that?” It’s derogatory and annoying.

“I hide myself, trying to conform to a male gender so no one could tell I was different and get discriminated against, bullied or lynched by the ignorant in the society I live in. I was always covered in baggy male clothes to hide my body.

The reason why I continued living as a male even though I didn’t really conform was because switching over to the female side was going to be difficult for a lot of ignorant people in the society to come to terms with or learn to accept my intersex transition.

They won’t understand. My intersex situation affected my health and I had to deal with lot of illnesses such as asthma, depression, mood swings, severe acne, weight gain issues, low libido, cramps etc.

Finding out I was intersex, I went through lot of trauma, self-hate, isolation, depression and suicidal thoughts as well contemplating suicide on several occasions just to end it all. Last year, I took rodent poison due to depression.

When I took it, I felt weak and managed to enter the kitchen to drink palm oil after thinking otherwise. For five hours, I was unconscious and when I woke up, I felt tired and weak.

I drank plenty of water and milk. I guess because I took the palm oil early, it helped. I got better the third day but started stooling and vomiting. It was tough, close shave with death. “I felt I was punishing myself for a condition I had no control over and I did not bring it upon myself.

I felt so odd and unwanted; I didn’t even feel human anymore. I had to cut ties with all friends and family because no one knew or understood what I was going through and I didn’t know how to explain this to anyone.”

A psychologist to the Nigerian national football teams, Mr Robinson Okosun, said the situation of Okeke requires so much guts and self-belief. He explained that it was difficult for the society to embrace a strange situation and so the onus is on Okeke to brace up, confront and fight the odds.

Okosun played a key role in the life of a former national female team player, Iyabo Abade, who came out to confess her hermaphrodite status. “It was a difficult situation but somehow she was strong and now after surgery, Iyabo is now James Johnson, a man.

This case can also be handled following all medical processes and she needs a trained psychologist to be talking to her constantly. It is not easy but she must be strong and bold to face the circumstances around her,” Okosun said. Another medical doctor, Enitan Philips, said it was difficult to determine a bisexual case at tender age but added that the case of Okeke could be blamed on the parents especially the mother. The doctor said: “There are certain features you will see as being strange even from the tender age.

As parents, there is need to take good look at the children. Today, parents leave the care of their children to house helps or their relatives. If Afam Okeke enjoyed adequate care from the mother, some of the features would have been detected early enough. “The earlier this issue is tackled, the better. I have seen many cases and after surgery, they live normal life.

I advise Okeke to move fast on various tests to determine her status and the hormones prevalent in her system. People travel abroad for surgery but I am sure it can also be handled in Nigeria but it will cost so much because many doctors will come together to handle it.” Abade, now James Johnson, also spoke to our correspondent about her travails. He explained that it was tough for him.

He became male in 2004 after an operation at Midway Hospital (now the Olympia Medical Center), Los Angeles by a team led by Dr Gary Alter. The operation cost N5.9m ($29,000) and was funded by the Municipal Affairs Department of the Ministry of Federal Capital Territory.

In 2009, he went for second surgery courtesy of the family Worship Centre in Wuye, Abuja “I was able to get help here and there including a church in Abuja. When I was asked about my preference, I was already aware that I had more of male hormones. The female genitals in me were blocked and the breasts were also injected and my penis grew, so I became a man.

“Today, I can make love to a woman normally but I still need help to complete the surgery so that my sperm can raise children. I am yet to achieve this. It is complex but not impossible. I still need money for my final surgery abroad,” James Johnson explained. Okeke is optimistic of coming out of this precarious situation well. “I am strong and all I need is money. It is not compulsory I travel out. I took some tests in Port Harcourt recently and so much money was spent.

I need my life back as a normal person free to do anything like every other person. “It is a tough call but I seek help from Nigerians and with their help, I am hopeful all will be well very soon.”

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