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Tanker explosion: When Hell came to Niger

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Tanker explosion: When Hell came to Niger

Indiscriminate parking and reckless driving by articulated vehicles, especially fuel laden tankers have sent many to their early graves. The recent explosions in parts of Niger State have claimed over 30 lives, injured many, destroyed houses, shops and cars. In this report, DANIEL ATORI writes on the negative effect and need for the federal and state governments to place stringent measures to curtail the illegalities of these drivers

 

T

he most recent of these explosions occurred on Friday in Dikko, Suleja, where five people were confirmed dead with about 20 persons severely burnt and currently receiving medical attention.

 

 

It would be noted that on August 13,2019, no fewer than 15 people lost their lives at Dakwa junction in Madalla Niger State, in an accident involving a gas tanker at about 2:50pm after the driver lost control.

 

 

The tanker driver, the Personnel of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) said, had successfully dodged a cyclist (an okada rider) who suddenly crossed the highway from the opposite direction. The tanker, he added, crushed several tricycles parked on the roadside with their operators and passengers inside.

 

 

New Telegraph counted five badly damaged tricycles and a makeshift shop which was severely destroyed by the truck.

 

 

A witness said: “You know this spot is notorious for truck accidents. The truck, which we later discovered to be carrying gas, was heading to Kaduna Road from probably inside Abuja. An okada rider, with a female passenger, crossed from the opposite direction.”

 

 

Also, on September 21, 2018, a tanker explosion burnt down at least 30 houses and shops in Maje community in Suleja Local Government Area of Niger State.

 

 

The tanker explosion, according to an eyewitness occurred after the tanker’s brake failed. The tanker was said to have bumped into three vehicles before it rammed into shops and houses and exploded. Reports from officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) said no lives were lost in the explosion; only properties were lost. When New Telegraph visited the General Hospital, victims could barely speak as most of them were still in shock and groaning in pains.

 

 

Some of the victims were however taken to traditional homes as there were claims that they were not being attended to at the General Hospital.

 

 

The cause of the explosion, according to an eyewitness, was that the tanker driver was told not to park where he did after several warnings but ignored advice and the explosion happened while he was trying to park by the road side.

 

 

In 2016, a fatal accident in Tegina town in Rafi Local Government Area, of Niger State happened and it claimed 14 persons  after a petrol tanker exploded.

 

 

Expressing concern over the incessant explosions, the Governor of Niger State, Abubakar Sani Bello, on Sunday decried the activities of tanker and trailer drivers who park illegally by the roadside, warning that the state government would no longer condone such illegalities.

 

 

He said it was quite unfortunate that the accident happened. As a government, we are pained to see the lives of our people being cut short, especially as a result of recklessness of drivers. “We will enforce all necessary laws with regards to illegal motor parks and other activities on the highways. I have therefore directed that the illegal park where the accident took place and other illegal motor parks and markets in the state be cleared off. We will ensure that our laws are enforced to the letter.”

 

 

He also commiserated with victims of the explosion, which left three persons dead, several injured, 19 cars and over 35 shops razed. The governor described the incident that occurred at Diko junction in Niger State, along Abuja-Kaduna Highway as unfortunate, saying, “it was heartbreaking to see lives of innocent people lost as a result of the recklessness of an individual.”

 

 

It would be recalled that the tanker explosion occurred late hours of Friday and lasted until 4:00am on Saturday following intervention by the State Fire Service men in collaboration with the Federal Fire Service from the Federal Capital Territory Abuja.

 

 

Furthermore, Bello directed the State Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA) to take assessment of the accident with a view to ascertaining the level of damages done.

 

 

Earlier, the Director-General of NSEMA, Mr Ibrahim Inga, who led other officials of the agency to the scene of the accident, said financial assistance would be provided to the victims, who are alive to enable them undergo treatment, as an immediate intervention by the state government.

 

 

He said the agency would also compile its report and submit to the governor for further action.

 

 

Also, at the scene of the accident was the Secretary to the State Government, Mallam Ahmed Matane and the Speaker of the State Assembly, Right Honourable Abdullahi Bawa Wuse.

 

 

On his part, the SSG said the state government would work with all relevant agencies in the state to ensure compliance to laws regulating motor parks and business operation on highways. He encouraged the survivors not to despair in their moment of trial, but to remain in faith, praying for speedy recovery for them.

 

 

The Speaker, on his part, enjoined local government councils to also tighten all loose ends in their laws to ensure enforcement at all means.

 

 

According to him, the challenge was not that there were no legislations to check the illegal activities of tanker drivers and other motorists, but the lack of enforcement of the legislations by those charged with the responsibility of doing so had given room for such.

 

 

The Unit Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Mr. Gabriel Amawo, said the corps would work with other relevant agencies to ensure safe and immediate evacuation of the burnt vehicles and the tanker to avoid further explosion as fuel might still be in it.

 

 

The victims and especially, survivors currently need the support and assistance of the Federal and state governments as the degrees of burnt.

 

 

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The Mega City / Life

A near-fatal spiritual exercise

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A near-fatal spiritual exercise

 

He has been fighting poverty with all his might. He needed to work harder in the fight. Solution? Ikechukwu Oke, an SS1 student of Ishieke Secondary School, Ebonyi, went on a 41-day dry fasting on a mountain in Abakaliki. He is now in a hospital, where he is battling for life. UCHENNA INYA reports

 

 

I

kechukwu Oke, a 19-year-old, lives with his elder brother, Obinna Oke, a mechanic, on Ishieke campus of Ebonyi State University and was enrolled into school by the brother. On daily basis, he hawks a basin of sachet water otherwise known as pure water and gala in Onitsha, Anambra State after every academic term to raise his school fees.

 

 

Things continued to get worse for him and his aged mother, a widow, who lives in the village. He decided to embark on a 41-day and nights dry fasting due to the family problems.

 

 

Oke did not inform any member of the family before embarking on the dry fasting. He had sneaked out to a popular prayer mountain at Azugwu in Abakaliki metropolis for the dry fasting, which he embarked on July 23, 2019 and ended it successfully. But he ended with certain health consequences; he became malnourished, gawky in appearance, couldn’t stand on his toes upright.     He  collapsed on the prayer ground. Those around him ran away, trying to avoid police harassment but only two persons summoned courage and carried him to his elder brother, who immediately contacted a patent medicine dealer, who temporarily resuscitated him.

 

 

The patent medicine dealer administered drip and some drugs on him to revive him. A  former House of Representatives member in the state, Peter Edeh, who is  an old boy of Ishieke Secondary  School, not satisfied with the local treatment,  mobilized  people  to take him to Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital Abakaliki (AE-FUTHA) for proper medical examination and immediate treatment.

 

 

Edeh said: “He is unable to speak but arrangements have been made to take him to hospital. His mother, a widow, is with him now. On a notepad beside him, he listed some of his problems which include constant spiritual attacks, family afflictions, and other academic and financial problems.”

 

 

New Telegraph visited him at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital Abakaliki (AE-FUTHA) where he was undergoing medical treatment. He was however unable to speak. His mother, Elizabeth Oke, who broke down in tears, said: “Ikechukwu Oke is my fifth son; my husband died in 1996. Ikechukwu’s elder brother, my first son, took him from me to assist me in training him since their father is no more alive and things became difficult for us. He was enrolled into school by the elder brother. After school closes in any academic session, Ikechukwu always visited me to work for me. After assisting me in the village, he would move to Onitsha, where one of his sisters is living. The sister, who is one of my daughters, was adopted by someone and has been in Onitsha. So, Ikechukwu usually goes there to live with them and hawk pure water and gala to raise money for his school fees.  After hawking the water and gala, he usually comes back to me to inform me that he has gone back from Onitsha for his studies. 

 

 

She continued that, “he told me that he would still come back to me after seeing his elder brother, so as to harvest cassava on our farm to process and get garri (cassava flakes) he would use and go back to school for his feeding. His brother thought that he has gone back to see me not knowing he went for dry fasting and prayer on a mountain in Abakaliki.

 

 

“That his brother decided to come to home after expecting him and asked me where Ikechukwu is, whether he was no longer harvesting the cassava for food processing. “I didn’t know he was going for 41 days dry fasting. Nobody knew it because we wouldn’t allow him to do such long fasting. Though, he has been fasting and praying, this one is the longest.

 

 

“So, people brought Ikechukwu to the hospital and he was dying. They alerted me in the village and I trekked long distance under heavy downpour to come and see him in the hospital. When he was revived in the hospital, I asked him why he did such fasting without our consent and he said we would not allow him to do it, if he had informed us. He lamented that things were becoming more difficult for us and he had to do the dry fasting for God’s intervention. “We are actually suffering; we started suffering immediately I lost their father. Things are very difficult for us. Nobody asks whether we exist or not. I usually serve men building houses. I serve as a labourer and they pay me N1,400 daily from which I have been using to carter for my children. I almost lost one of my hands while doing this tedious job. It is a hard job. My son, Ikechukwu’s elder brother told me to stop the work but I don’t have other means of survival.

 

 

“Ikechukwu always complains of our condition and always do fasting and prayer for it. He usually complains that we are not moving forward, no improvement in our poor condition. He started his prayer in early stage when he was 11 years old. We are all Catholics and Ikechukwu belongs to Charismatic organisation in the church. He  belongs to various prayer groups in the church while I also belong to charity organisation. We are all committed in the things of God and we have been begging Him to have mercy on us and change our story for good.”

 

 

His elder brother, Obinna Oke, said nobody was aware of the boy’s action, describing it as shocking and bizarre.

 

 

He noted that he wouldn’t have allowed his brother to embark on such suicidal mission. He added: “Ikechukwu is my younger brother. He is a healthy person and does not suffer any ailment. He lives with me in Ishieke where I work as a mechanic. He  told me that he would like to visit our mother in the village and assist in her farming activities since school has closed for the term. It was on July that he said this to me and that he would visit our sister in Onitsha after helping our mother in the village. He promised to return to me and then left. He has no telephone line as to know how he was doing. I decided to go to our village and check on him. When I asked of him, I was told he has gone to Anambra State.

 

 

“While I was working in my site at Ishieke, people came to me and said that my brother, Ikechukwu has been brought back home and that he was dying. I asked who carried him home and I was told it was two persons, who said that they went for prayer at a mountain in Abakaliki where he collapsed. They said he did 41 days fasting and prayer without tasting anything. They told me that on the last day of the prayer, he collapsed and they decided to carry him home after inquiring where he comes from.  “I asked him why he decided to do that type of fasting without telling me because he was supposed to be taking water or fruit during such long fasting. He said there was no cause for alarm and that he decided to do the dry fasting because of our condition which he had severally complained have gone worst”. 

 

 

Oke disclosed that his brother wanted to become a Reverend Father but there  was no one to assist him which was why he put him in secondary school, so as to join Junior Seminary after graduation to know if he can actualise his ambition.

 

 

One of his friends, Felix Nonso,  said Ikechukwu had sought assistance from  government and private individuals following the family’s poor conditions but to no avail especially sponsoring him to actualise his dream of becoming a Catholic Priest.

 

 

“Fasting has been part of his life, though he has never embarked on dry fasting. He was still reading his Bible while being administered to by the doctors.  Engr Peter Edeh called to attend to him. All thanks to God, who preserved him for 41 days and nights dry fasting. I want to enjoin you who have the heart of assistance to ensure this boy end up in theology school,” he pleaded.

 

 

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A rain of cries, agonies in Ondo

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A rain of  cries, agonies in Ondo

 

 

Across all communities and tribes, the significance of rain is always attributed as blessings and a bountiful harvest for the people.  Biologically, rain is of paramount importance for survival of living as it serves as the main source of water that keeps the cycle moving.

When it rains, particularly in rural communities, after the commencement of planting on farmlands, the satisfaction and fulfillment of joy on the faces of farmers can be likened to that of blossom and green cornfield that is always in contact with the rains.

 

However, the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET), as well as the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), had, earlier this year, predicted that most states in the country would experience torrential rains while about 600 Local Government Areas in the country are under threat of flood.

 

 

According to the NIHSA, in its warning, “no person should build structures within the flood plains, and people should clean their drainages.

“When the flood looks for a way to move and does not find any, it begins to pull down buildings and bridges.

 

 

“It is not easy to predict urban flooding. It  occurs suddenly mostly, but river flooding can be predicted to a high level of accuracy because of equipment along the river channels in Nigeria.”

NIMET, on its part, had appealed to government at all levels not to take the prediction with kid gloves.

 

 

“We call on all policy and decision-makers in the three tiers of government to take these predictions seriously and prepare adequately against any eventualities.

“Let me advise that with the manner climate change events are unfolding globally whereby a number of predictions are upturned.”

 

 

Meanwhile, on August 3, 2019, it became evident that the warnings given were not yielded to by those concerned as the rains that fell in some parts of Ondo State came bearing sorrow and agony as it left the joy expected with it behind. 

Following the torrential rain in some parts of the state, many residents were rendered homeless due to the flooding, which led to the collapse of residential buildings and shops.

 

 

Also, hundreds of hectares of farmlands which were almost ready for cultivation were swept off, with farmers gnashing their teeth as their investment went under the waters before their eyes.  Mostly affected by the flood were those residing in Alade-Idanre and Odode-Idanre town in Idanre Local Government as well as those in Ayede-Ogbese community in Akure North Local Government Areas of Ondo State.

 

 

The flood, it was gathered, occurred as a result of heavy downpour in the state which subsequently led to the overflow of the rivers within the affected communities, particularly the Ogbese River, which stretches from Ekiti into Ondo State. 

 

 

In Alade-Idanre, areas affected by the flood were, Oke Mapo, Opa, Yaba Alade Idanre among others while in Ayede-Ogbese many areas were affected.

 

 

It was estimated that property running into millions of naira were destroyed by the flood as it also made movement impossible as most of the affected residents were stranded all through the downpour.

 

 

Also, those whose houses collapsed completely groaned of having nowhere to lay their heads, stressing that they could not salvage any of the property during the havoc.

 

 

While calling for urgent intervention from relevant government agencies, particularly, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), to come to their aid, the affected residents lamented that the means of their livelihood have been swept away, adding that all they toiled to achieve in life were destroyed by the flood with nowhere to put their families.

 

 

According to one of the victims, Banji Akinkunmi, who pleaded with the government to come to his rescue, all his life efforts have been taken away from him by the flood. He expressed worries that due to his old age, he had nobody to run to nor had any income to fall back upon.

 

 

Another victim, Ayo Olusola, a retiree, lamented that his fishery business, which he set up with all his life savings was swept away by the flood.         

 

           

Mrs. Rhoda Saliu, a widow in her 60s, who runs a poultry farm, narrated that the birds which she just purchased days to the disaster were all destroyed by the flood.

 

 

According to her, she was nurturing the birds for sales ahead of the forthcoming festive season in December.

 

Also, those still counting their losses in the incident were rice farmers in the state. The farmers disclosed that the flood, which occurred as a result of torrential rainfall, destroyed over 600 hectares of their rice farms located in both Eleyowo and Ogbese.

 

The farmers, who were obviously in pains, stated the rice farms which has been totally submerged in water were expected to be harvested in October.

 

 

Pastor Olayinka Labiran, who is the coordinator of rice farmers in the state, lamented that such calamity has never befallen his members since they ventured into rice farming.                      

 

       

The rice farmers group with the name, Federated FADAMA Rice Association, appealed to the federal, state governments as well as other relevant agencies to come to their assistance, stressing that over 373 rice farmers came together with their resources to cultivate the farm.

 

 

Labiran added that a member had at least one hectare, which was made possible through the loans obtained from the Bank of Agriculture under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers Scheme.

 

 

“We are in a state of mourning because of the loss the flood had caused us.”

 

Meanwhile, on its apart, the Ondo State Government attributed the flooding in the state to the construction of buildings on river courses in the state. 

 

 

It, however, unfolded plans to demolish structures erected on waterways in different parts of the state.

 

 

According to the Deputy Governor, Hon. Agboola Ajayi, who inspected the havoc wreaked by the downpour, the demolition is part of measures to prevent flooding in the state.

Ajayi, who is acting as governor, promised that the state government would try its best in terms of bringing relief to the affected victims soon.

 

 

“We thank God no life was lost. Small  flood that is not much like this had killed, but we thank God such did not happen in Idanre.

 

 

“I was in Ibadan when this happened. We have inspected the houses. I will advise that our people should leave the affected houses to prevent another disaster.

 

 

“Some people build houses along the river course. We will ensure that no matter how highly placed the person is, we will demolish the house to have a free flow of water,” he said.

 

 

Speaking on the magnitude of the havoc, the Odopetu of Ayede-Ogbese, High Chief Oladimeji Abitogun, stated that the government is only chasing shadows with its intending approach to the issues.

 

 

According to Abitogun, the Ogbese river has never been dredged, adding that the drainage within and around the community, which has blocked, overtime, has never been channelized which he said was the resultant effect of the heavy downpour.

 

 

He cautioned that urgent measures must be activated to prevent such from recurring in the future instead of strategies currently being employed by the government at scoring unnecessary political points.

 

 

“Farms have been destroyed. Buildings  have collapsed. Cars  have been swept away. Beyond that, people have lost so much in terms of valuable property.

 

 

“Even crocodiles and other amphibious animals now lurk around the community. That is the situation with us in Ogbese now.  “That kind of statement from a political leader that houses will be demolished is unfortunate. That is what I called a third world mentality. Leadership is more than political expediency.

 

 

“I have listened to some of the officials of the Ondo State government talking down on them as regards the flood as if the government does not have any blame in all of this.

 

 

“How about officials of the physical planning office, they do not do due diligence when they give approvals?

 

 

“They should look at the effects of erosion washing the riverbed as well as the blocked drainage. People have lived on these plains for centuries without any issue.   “Will the government also say that the flooding that occurs on the airport road in Oba-Ile is caused by people building houses on waterways too?

 

 

“We must look at this in a more fundamental and germane way other than saying it is because the people are building houses on waterways.

 

 

“They should release the relief material first for the affected victims. They should provide short and long-time measures,” Abitogun stated.

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Giving succour to IDPs

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Giving succour to IDPs

One of the major challenges confronting the Governor Samuel Ortom’s administration in Benue State since assumption of office in 2015 is security.

 

 

The attacks on communities in various local government areas in the state such as Guma, Makurdi, Kwande, Agatu, Tarka, Logo, Gwer, Gwer West and Buruku by militant herdsmen no doubt buttresses the intensity of security challenge within the state.

 

 

Of particular note in the series of the attacks is the attack on Tomatar, a village in Saghev council ward of Guma local government area in the governor’s home, January 2, 2018 by herdsmen, where over 70 were killed. It was one of the most devastating moments in the history of the state.

 

 

The attack on Mbalom during which two Catholic Priests, Reverend Fathers Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha were gruesomely murdered along with worshippers by men suspected to be herdsmen militia was another dark moment.

 

 

Also worrisome are the series of attacks on Agatu leading to loss of lives and property which exposed the Ortom administration to the enormity of the insecurity and humanitarian challenges it had to contend with.

 

 

Sadly, these attacks have rendered many people homeless, leaving the state government with no other option than to establish camps in strategic locations of the affected local government areas to provide shelter and succour for the displaced.

 

 

In the midst of these challenges, the Benue State Emergency Management Agency SEMA has thus far been proactive in providing relief materials and other forms of humanitarian support to cushion effects of the hardship on victims of such attacks.

 

 

Proper attention has been accorded Cameroonians taking refuge in Abande and Imande Agbatse in Kwande local government area of the state that Governor Ortom sees as part of his administration’s responsibility to cater for.

 

 

It is quite obvious that the Executive Secretary of SEMA, Mr. Emmanuel Shior understands the mandate given him by the governor as he has evolved strategies to ensure prompt intervention in all humanitarian challenges and emergencies requiring such intervention. No doubt, it was perhaps based on this understanding that, Mr. Shior, on assumption of office, established the Abande and Imande Agbatse refugees camps in Kwande to address the humanitarian crisis.

 

 

Governor Ortom however, later approved the relocation of the more than 3, 000 refugees camped at the Abande and Imande Agbatse to Anyake settlement in Kwande.

 

 

With the approval, Mr. Shior also established Internally Displaced Persons camps in Daudu, Guma local government, Abeda Anyiin in Logo, Abagena in Makurdi and Naka in Gwer West where food and non food items are distributed on regular basis.

 

 

New Telegraph gathered that the state government through SEMA is currently catering for about 483, 692 displaced persons spread across the state in both official and non official camps.

 

 

The IDP camps are being effectively managed to ensure that the health facilities and other social amenities such as boreholes provided by the government are functioning.

 

 

Similarly, the state government, through the Ministry of Health has provided clinics in the IDPs camps and deployed medical personnel there to manage them while complicated cases are referred to the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) and the Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH), all in Makurdi.

 

 

Also worthy of note is that the security of the IDPs and indeed all people of the state is a priority to the Ortom administration hence efforts are constantly made to secure all vulnerable communities from herdsmen attacks and deployment of security personnel to man the camps.

 

 

In order not to leave the children out of school for so long in view of their condition, the state government has established emergency schools under supervision of staff of the Benue State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to teach them.

 

 

In addition, individuals and organisations have been partnering with SEMA to voluntarily impact knowledge to children in the various camps with the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Benue state chapter taking its 2019 literary awareness campaign to Abagena and Daudu camps.

 

 

The successes recorded by SEMA under Mr. Shior are largely due to the unwavering commitment of Governor Ortom to the security and welfare of the IDPs in the camps.

 

 

Gov. Ortom has also consistently called on the federal government to release the N10 billion it promised through the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo to assist states that had been ravaged as a result of attacks on their communities due to herders- farmers crisis.  It is also important to acknowledge that the state government has, through SEMA, built a strong synergy with NGOs such as United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) which has often yielded positive results. For instance, UNICEF works in collaboration with SUBEB to run the emergency schools in all the IDPs camps to ensure that the children gain access to quality education same way those in the normal free societies do.

 

 

Apart from victims of attacks by herdsmen, victims of flooding in the state have no doubt, over the years, also benefitted from SEMA’s largesse as many of them, especially from the last devastating rains, were presented with relief materials.

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Saved from death’s jaw

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Saved from death’s jaw

For a kidney patient, death can hit anytime. But 9-year-old Victoria Iboi in Ogheghe village, Auchi, Edo State, has escaped after undergoing successful transplant sponsored by Ebonyi-trained Medical Doctor, Obinna Oke. UCHENNA INYA reports

 

 

V

ictoria’s mum, a hair dresser and mother of five, was evicted from her shop four months ago for her inability to pay her rent. She had solicited for help from different quarters to enable her realize the rent and return to her business but to no avail. 

 

 

Her husband, a Toyota Mechanic apprentice, could not raise the money and the  health condition of Victoria, her daughter, who is  a twin, compounded her woes.

 

 

The little girl was diagnosed of kidney disease. The woman and her husband had done all within their power, begged everyone they knew, relations and politicians, approached many radio and TV stations, took to social media but nothing came out, not even enough money to afford the maintenance of Victoria’s  hemodialysis to avoid her sudden death.

 

 

But Luck smiled on her when an Ebonyi trained Medical Doctor, Obinna Oke, who is currently on his Housemanship in Benin Edo State,  got wind of the worsening  health of the 9-year-old girl and resolved to tackle it.

 

 

Oke, before moving to Benin, Edo State for the Housemanship/Intenship, floated  a foundation known as JOFA Global Foundation to sponsor  free hemodialysis for paediatric patients between 0-18 months  in any Nigerian hospital  of indigent parents who cannot afford the procedure. He put N3million into the fund.

 

 

Oke, who is Chairman/CEO of the foundation said: “Once we verify the authenticity of their condition through their care providers, we make a transfer of the required sum for the procedure to the hospital or clinic or through the managing physician, with a token for the patient’s upkeep.

 

 

“This however, shall only cover for emergency situations until the definitive cure (e.g renal transplant) or sponsorship for maintenance hemodialysis for such a patient is sort by their relations or any other means most of which the foundation shall help”.

 

 

However, the foundation took the bull by the horn and sponsored Victoria’s kidney transplant. The disease kept the girl popularly called Vicky out of school. N10million was spent on the transplant to save Victoria from the chronic kidney disease.

 

 

Oke said: “I had been distraught for over three months now but today, my heart pumps with joy. About three months ago, a Paediatrician and a nurse phoned me from the Renal Unit where I work concerning a  9  year old girl, Victoria, with Chronic Kidney Disease, who needed urgent hemodialysis and whose parents were indigent. They were aware of my offer (through JOFA Global Foundation) for such sick children of poor parents, who needed dialysis but can’t afford it.

 

 

“Victoria couldn’t later be dialyzed because of difficulty in getting femoral access due to the swelling that developed from previous cannulations. They were meant to buy a tunnel line but there was no way they could afford it. Her poor, helpless Mum, a hair dresser and mother of five, who was evicted from her shop four months ago because of inability to foot the rent, kept calling for help. Her Dad also, a Peugeot car mechanic, had to become an apprentice again of Toyota since Peugeot cars have nearly become extinct. Victoria’s ill-health had worsened their condition.

 

 

“Attempts at getting her a suitable tunnel was futile as an appropriate size was not readily available. This led to a worsening of her condition and created a state of hopelessness for her with a deep sense of urgency for us to do something. She had become bloated with fluid, in persistent pain, in constant dyspnoea and could only manage to sleep sitting up all night.  We didn’t give up until Vicky was successfully cannulated and subsequently began to dialyze although once weekly as against the recommended two to three times weekly. “Vicky doesn’t allow any other doctor touch her apart from me. From then on, people call her my daughter. She has a twin brother, Victor, who is in Primary 3. Victor hasn’t the slighted idea what Victoria goes through, although he is said to often cry beside her on such terrible nights when it appeared Vicky would breathe her last. Both are inseparable. Vicky had stopped school for over six months now because of her ill-health. Yet, she’s so brilliant and adorable, and gets everyone asking God why she had to be that unfortunate. “Vicky’s recent cold mood sends deep fear down my spine. She no longer cries of pain, even as we drive the big cannula down her thighs, a process that sends the adults up the couch in pain irrespective of the level of local anaesthetic agent infiltrated. She now merely stiffens and gasps and then continues to stare vacantly at the ceiling. She seldom talks or smiles anymore even when I play her favourite cartoon, Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir. Imagining the horror on her mind suffocates my soul.

 

 

“Her prognosis had become very poor. Her Managing Consultant had many times counselled her parents in light of it, and on the only window of recovery; Kidney transplant. A procedure that takes average of 10 million, excluding the cost of a donor kidney, if a free donor isn’t available. “Vicky turned nine on the first of last month. When she was asked to make a wish, everyone knew what poor Vicky would ask. Of course, to get better and be strong. But no, she limped up on her feet and with a tinge of smile that she hadn’t afforded for a long time said: “I wish to be the flower girl at Dr Obinna’s wedding.” My heart was instantly ripped apart even as the nurses and my colleagues hummed in fondness.

 

 

I got home that day and wept. I couldn’t sleep all night. I discovered I would never make peace with myself should I wake up any day to hear that Vicky was no more.

 

 

“A week ago, after Vicky’s session of dialysis, I realized something needed to be done before the obvious would happen. So, I sat up at night and wrote a long mail to the only stranger-friend I knew, a saint in human flesh.

 

 

It wasn’t for him to expressly help. I wrote him to pour out the frustration and despair that Vicky’s condition had enmeshed me in and for him to help me in one of the steps I had determined to beg even the whole world for her sake.

 

 

“Later in the evening, I got the most shocking reply from this stranger. He wrote: “Dear Doc. Let’s not waste more time. Please initiate the process of getting her a kidney transplant. I will raise the required funds.

 

 

“The next day, I woke up to a credit alert of N10million and I couldn’t believe my eyes. This particular stranger who pleads anonymity has done it again! So, simply as before and as always. Of note is that I had long transferred this sum successfully to the hospital that carried out the transplant.”

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Burga: One community, many problems

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Burga: One community, many problems

 

Burga is a big community in Dull ward, Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of Bauchi State. Like any other community, Burga is faced with many problems that need urgent attention to reduce some of their sufferings and pending crisis that may erupt between the people of Bal village and Burga over market relocation.

 

 

Checks by New Telegraph revealed that the market was temporarily  relocated to Bal village as a result of series of complaints by Fulani herdsmen, who constantly alleged that on every market day, Burga people use to steal their motorbikes and other valuables. That is nearly leading to a showdown. But now that the people have resolved their differences to return the market to its former host community, Burga, has become a tug of war between Burga and Bal communities and if not addressed, may lead to a breakdown of peace in the two communities.

 

 

Speaking to New Telegraph, a community leader in Burga town, Alhaji Musa Talle Burga, said initially, the problem started with the Fulani over missing motorbikes on each market day and the market was relocated to Bal village to douse tension. 

 

 

According to him, another problem, “what we are facing is that in the whole of Tafawa Balewa LGA, there is no big market like Burga market but we have no shops. Apart from that, currently, we are having problem with Fulani, even though that problem has been settled. The problem between us and the Fulani was that the Fulani accused our people of stealing their motorbikes and other valuables each market day and because of that, the market was relocated to Bal village for peace to reign.”

 

 

Burga said that now that their feud has been settled with the Fulani, another one erupted between the Bal community and Burga as the Bal people have resisted any move to return the market to Burga. “We want our market back but the people of Bal village are claiming the ownership of the market day and any attempt to relocate the market to Burga would result to breakdown of law and order,” he said.

 

 

“Now that we have reconciled our differences with the Fulani, we are expecting that the market should go back to its former place but we fixed Monday for our market day, Bal community fixed Monday. We fixed Tuesday, Bal fix Tuesday and it is getting out of control because it is really affecting our business and other trade. They wanted crisis but our people rejected it. We have elders who are prevailing on us. If not, by now, we would have shed blood.”

 

 

Speaking on flooding, Burga, who is 61 years old, said that, the recent flooding in their area affected 50 houses and destroyed 30 farm lands.

 

 

He said the flood washed away maize farms and the sand covered rice farms, saying they are yet to record death as a result of the flood but those living near the river bank are always afraid of the unknown. He said another problem in Burga, is youth restiveness.

 

 

“We have many youths in Burga who have finished secondary schools but have no work to do. Some of them are willing to further their education but no one to help them. As you can see, we are poor, we cannot sponsor them anywhere for education.”               “We need help ourselves, not to talk of helping others. We need government to help us in this situation. We are calling on people to help us.”

 

 

He said some of them are farmers but this year 2019, they don’t have enough fertilizer in good time and when the fertilizer is available, the high cost drives them away.

 

 

“A bag of fertilizer costs N10, 000 in this community and we are looking for what to eat. How can I carry N10,000 to buy a bag of fertilizer. It just would not work like that. To buy a bag fertilizer at N10, 000 is better but a bag of maize is at N7, 000. But if government would subsidize it at affordable price like N5, 000 or below, we will be able to afford.  “We are also into dry season farming but last year 2018, the farming was not good for us due to some certain reasons and this year’s rainy season farming, flood has washed away our farmlands and we don’t get fertilizer in time which is a double tragedy for us.”

 

 

 

He said their people are battling with malaria, pneumonia and typhoid because of cold and lack of enough mosquito nets. “Some people have three wives and 10 children but they gave them three mosquito nets. That would not do them anything. Our hospitals have no drugs but we have enough manpower.”

 

 

Commenting on road project embarked on by Governor Bala Muhammad Abdulakadir in the Burga community, he said it was a blessing to the people of the community and it would further boost their businesses and link them with other communities within a short time.

 

 

“We are yet to receive any intervention from government but we are hoping and expecting government to do something about our situation. I am calling on government to help us with fertilizer, nothing more!”

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A hell of a flood in Ekiti

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A hell of a flood in Ekiti

Ekiti State witnessed a sensational rainfall which began on Sunday August 25. The downpour became heavier on Wednesday August 27 and ravaged sections of Ekiti communities.

 

 

The heavier downpour, which started around 6.30pm on Wednesday and lasted till the following day, Thursday 28th of August, cut off from the main city, certain parts of Ado metropolis and some parts of Ikere Ekiti in Ikere Local Government Area of the state.

 

 

Mainly affected in Ado Ekiti is Ureje area, along Federal Polytechnic road and other adjoining communities like Boom Town, Eminrin and Ijelu village, fondly called Aba Oyinbo by commuters.

 

 

A resident of the area, Mr Idowu Adaramoye, said the bridge on Ado-Ijan-Ikare road, which also linked the capital city to the Federal Polytechnic region was overran by flood around 1am and lasted till 6am.

 

 

He said commuters travelling along that route between that six hours had to park their vehicles at the nearby filling stations and waited until it subsided. The source said the flood also surged into a church and about five houses located within the vicinity of  Ureje Bridge .  “Nobody could cross that bridge to the Polytechnic side or go into Ado Ekiti city. Most of the residents had to wake up and catch a glimpse of the ravaging fast moving water.”

 

 

Also, residents of the Boom Town, Eminrin , had to stay indoors till 12 noon before they could cross Ureje stream that overflowed   their environment. The Chairman of the community, Mr Yemi Oladimeji, appealed to government to dredge the stream to lower the water to prevent recurrence of the flooding.  “This Ureje stream was dredged about three years ago but the job was not well done and the effect is what we are feeling today. About four houses could have been destroyed but for communal efforts made to ensure that we concrete the same inner Ureje bridge that linked us with Oke Ila region.

 

 

“There is need for government to do more thorough job to dredge inorder to reduce the water level.”

 

 

In Ikere Ekiti, aftermath of the downpour has rendered some residents homeless while property worth millions of Naira was destroyed by flood.

 

 

The affected areas are Kajola Adun Ogbon in Oke Osun, Alade filling Station Area in Odo Oja. When New Telegraph visited the affected areas, it was observed that the downpour led to flooding which submerged many houses, livestock gardens and cars.

 

 

Some occupants of the affected houses are now trapped within, while others are finding it difficult to get to their houses as the whole environment has now been flooded.

 

 

Flooding has been a usual occurrence annually in Ikere Ekiti. Some residents are stranded and helpless, calling for the assistance of government.

 

 

The Commissioner for Environment in Ekiti State, Olugbenga Agbeyo, said he was notified about the incident by the speaker of the Ekiti State Assembly, Right Hon. Funminiyi Afuye and since then, he had started contacting relevant authorities to do the needful.

 

 

Earlier, the Ekiti State Government said it has commenced proactive measures to save residents from flood and other natural disasters.

 

 

The Deputy Governor, Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi, said the measures include enlightenment of the populace, moral and material support for disaster response agencies, among others.

 

 

Egbeyemi explained that the state government would aid the state fire services in providing emergency and prompt response services, to areas and individuals affected by natural disasters.  Egbeyemi gave the assurance on Tuesday, while receiving the Head of Operation, National Emergency Management Agency, (NEMA), Ekiti State, Mr Olusegun Afolayan, in his office in Ado Ekiti. Egbeyemi stressed that the state government, through the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) has embarked on sensitization programmes that would discourage the people from blocking drainages with refuse and sewage that can prevent the free flow of water during this rainy season.

 

 

This was sequel to the forecast by the Nigerian Meteorological Agencies (NIMET) that over 20 states of the federation would be overrun by massive floods in the month of September.

 

 

Egbeyemi, who commended the efforts of NEMA across the country in bringing succour to natural disaster victims, urged the officials to shun nepotism, sectionalism and be fair to all disaster victims irrespective of their tribe, ethnicity, and location.

 

 

The Deputy Governor also added that the state government through SEMA was mobilizing all forces to ensure that the state is clean and to avert the 2019 flood prediction through the provision of waste bin to houses.

 

 

Egbeyemi promised that the state government would ensure full compliance to NEMA directives and advice that would make the state safe from flood and other imminent natural disasters.  Afolayan explained that the essence of his visit to Ekiti State was to seek for the assistance of the state government in creating enabling environment for a functional SEMA, Local Emergency Management Committees (LEMCs)and other stakeholders in the states.

 

 

The NEMA Head of operation in the state, who commended the state government for cooperating with the agency in responding and tackling of disaster challenges, said vision of the agency was to build a culture of preparedness, mitigation, response and community resilience to disaster in Nigeria.

 

 

While disclosing that the agency recently embarked on repositioning, restructuring and reengineering its activities in tackling disaster challenges, Afolayan noted that concerted efforts and active collaboration were needed between all emergency response services to provide a viable disaster rescue response to the distressed.

 

 

Afolayan stressed that all hands must be on deck to mitigate and respond to imminent flood disaster that might likely occur as a result of heavy rain fall as predicted by NIMET, and NIHSA 2019 Annual Flood Outlook.

 

 

The NEMA Boss in Ekiti further appealed to the state government to fund SEMA and Fire Services to make them more proactive and provide operational vehicles to them to enhance their performance during intervention.

 

 

Afolayan wanted the state government to produce media jingles that would sensitize and enlighten the people of the state against indecent dumping of refuse in gutters and deviate from blocking waters ways to avert flood disasters.

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Help! Don’t let me lose my only leg!

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Help! Don’t let me lose my only leg!

Except for urgent intervention, this physically challenged man may lose his second leg following what he described as ‘spiritual attack’. He narrated his pathetic story to MURITALA AYINLA in this report

 

 

H

e walked gently into the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre, Lagos Secretariat, Alausa, struggling with his clutches. Making sure that he got the rapt attention he wanted, he wasted no time to pour out his pains. Despite putting up great efforts at mustering courage to share his story in the secluded office, wrinkles of hopelessness laced with frustration were as  clear as crystal all over him as he took his seat.

 

 

However, as the 60-year-old amputee started narrating his tales of woes and negligence, and how he lost one of his legs to an accident in 1982, he lost the inmost struggle to hold back his tears.  He sobbed intermittently as he continually punctuated his conversation with this New Telegraph amidst sob and tears over fear of losing his only hope. He is Osawemwenze Francis from Oredo Local Government of Edo State.

 

 

According to the Edo State born technician, he had a dream to become a rich and successful businessman. With little education his parent could afford him, he had made efforts to develop himself and broadened his skills. He had ventured into so many trades that many of his contemporaries who had humble background like him refused to dabble into for fear of failure and difficulty.   

 

 

Through his persistent struggle and adventurous enterprise, he rose more than his peers and became more privileged than most of his contemporaries. But in 1982, his fortune changed! The supposed bright star began to go gloomy courtesy of an unfortunate incident that nearly rendered him permanently incapacitated. 

 

 

According to him, he had no premonition that things would suddenly go awry because he had a call to pick up a contract that could possible lead to his breakthrough but he never got to the office of the firm that invited him when he met his waterloo. He had a fatal accident that left him maimed!

 

 

Hear him: ”In 1982, I got a contract in Delta State. I was called upon with my friend to come and brief the firm on the estimate of the job. On our way to Warri, we had a fatal accident where I was told almost everyone involved died. For months, I was unconscious. Before I could regain my consciousness, my leg had been amputated. Based on what I was told, when the accident occurred, I was taken to Specialist Hospital on Sapele Road in Benin City. The only thing I could remember was that my left leg was in Plaster of Paris, POP and I used to have serious pains on the leg.

 

 

“When the pain was too much for me to bear, the family decided to discharge me from the hospital and took me to a native doctor, who specialised in bone mending. When we got there, the native doctor told them that the POP had to be removed. After critically examining the damage the accident had caused on my leg, the native doctor discharged us and advised that the leg should be amputated. A doctor told me I had seven days left to die unless the leg was amputated.”

 

 

“For me and the entire family, it was a very tough decision to take but eventually we all had to agree that the leg should go for me to remain alive.”

 

 

He explained further that, after losing the leg, he intensified his struggle and hustle to become successful in life. Realising that he had no wherewithal to further his education, especially having become physically-challenged, he began to learn vocational skills, from a radio technician near his house in Benin City for two years before setting up his own shop in the city.

 

 

“I had a shop in Benin City and that was where I was able to raise money to enroll myself at the Benin Technical College to have better understanding of the technicality of electronic repair work. I can repair plasma TV, massaging machine and other electronics,” he said.

 

 

But like thousands of Lagosians today, the search for greener pasture made him to come to Lagos. As envisaged, when he got to Lagos, life was good to the extent that he was not disappointed with his ambition to make a better living. He visited Alaba International market regularly to help people buy television and other electronics. He helped his clients to replace their damaged spare parts and fixed them.

 

 

He got more patronage than his contemporaries who are not physically challenged as he was usually busy fixing one electronic gadget or the other. He became the first choice of anyone who wants to repair a faulty electronic. There was never a dull moment for him. Things were so good for him that he bought a motorcycle that he takes to the electronic market to buy spare parts.

 

 

But in 2015, he had an experience that is currently threatening his existence. Amidst tears he said: “It was in 2015. I left home around 9am. I was hale and hearty. I had gone to Alaba International Market to buy Plasma for a customer. When I returned, I was feeling feverish. I went to a nearby chemist to buy drug and slept off after taking the drug. By the time I woke up, my leg had become red and up till now, that is how I started battling with this remaining leg.

 

 

 

“I have been spending so much money, moving from one traditional doctor to the other. I have been to Ijebu and other towns of known spiritual doctors in Nigeria but none could save me. I was told it was a spiritual arrow. I don’t want to lose this only leg. I’m begging the Lagos State government and the Governor, Mr Babjide Sanwo-Olu, through the Lagos State Office of Disability Affairs, LASODA and other public spirited Nigerians to help me save this leg.”

 

 

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A memorable, colourful Sango festival in Oyo

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A memorable, colourful Sango festival in Oyo

Africans believe in the existence of gods who are regarded as agents of Eledumare (God in the Yoruba mythology). One of the notable gods in the Yoruba belief is Sango also known as Jakuta.

 

 

He is the god of thunder and lightning and one of the most worshipped gods all over the world.

 

 

Historically, Sango was a royal ancestor of the Yoruba and the third King of the Oyo Kingdom. Notable for his symbol of double-headed axe, which represents swift and balanced justice, Sango succeeded Ajaka, son of Oranmiyan.

 

 

Sango was a great warrior, whose major weapon is ‘Edun Aara’ (Thunderbolt) with which he strikes his enemies to death. Owing to awesome power, traditionalists in the Oyo kingdom could not but venerate Sango. It is believed to be the husband of Oya (a goddess) of great repute too.

 

 

Whenever Sango was angry, he was used to emitting fire from his mouth. His worshippers invoke his spirit to send thunderbolt and strike anybody that does anything against the norm. There had been instances where thieves would steal and escape but when Sango was appeased to track the person, thunderbolt would be invoked to strike the person and recover the stolen item. It has been happening, but the thunderbolt would only strike during light rain.

 

 

To sustain the potency and relevance of the god of thunder and lightning, Alaafin of Oyo, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi 111, annually celebrates the ancestor. Worshippers would gather and display their colourful traditional performances to the admiration of non-adherents.

 

 

Celebration of this year’s Sango festival took place on Saturday in the ancient palace of the “Iku Baba Yeye (the one called “Alase Ekeji Orisa), Oba Adeyemi Alowolodu bii Iyere.

 

 

Alaafin had been propagating the Yoruba culture across the globe as history has it that he had been part of the Sango celebration at festivals held in Brazil. Alaafin was attending and giving moral support to the Black Africans in the country, as well as, many natives in Brazil who also share in the tradition.

 

 

The occasion was very colourful with many traditionalists and Sango worshippers dressed in red apparels converging on the Aganju Square of the ancient palace in Oyo Town. Sango being a kind of god being worshipped in Brazil where many Africans were sold into slavery many years ago, foreign worshippers who still identified with Africa also witnessed the celebration on Saturday.

 

 

A series of cultural displays were churned out by the Sango worshippers right from the morning till the afternoon period when the Alaafin emerged in red flowing garment, accompanied by some of his Oloris. The Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr. Wasiu Olatubosun, was also not left behind as he represented the governor of the state, Engineer Seyi Makinde.

 

 

Speaking on behalf of the governor, Olatubosun, who appreciated the organisers of the festival, noted that Sango festival was being celebrated not only in Oyo State, but all over countries of the world, reason some foreign nationals attended the Sango festival.

 

 

Olatubosun impressed it on the mammoth admirers present that the Sango festival was an annual remembrance of the impact of Alaafin Sango as one of the Alaafins and also as a deity, who will forever be remembered as far as Yoruba land is concerned.

 

 

According to him: “By next year, the state government will have promoted this festival to be included in one of the UNESCO programmes and celebrated like that of Osun Osogbo festival. Sango is one of the most celebrated in the world”, he asserted.

 

 

While urging people of the state to always appreciate the difference between religion and tradition and never mix the relevance of the two,  Olatubosun urged the people to always promote Yoruba culture and tradition, so that Yoruba land can move forward.

 

 

His words: ” The Yoruba should always associate and rally around their culture. Our culture should be celebrated more than those of the Western world. Let us all go back home and teach our children our culture because there is a difference between religion and culture”, he said.

 

 

In his extempore address delivered before the excited gathering, Alaafin espoused the relevance of culture and tradition to the development of any race or community. He expressed worry at the alarming manner with which many Yoruba people, especially traditional rulers, were relegating their culture for foreign ones.

 

 

Lest African culture and tradition go into extinction, the foremost monarch specifically called on traditional rulers in Yoruba land to uphold Yoruba culture and tradition, failure which according to him, could spell doom for the race.

To the Alaafin, generation unborn will not forgive any traditional ruler who fails in his duty to his subjects in his domain.

 

 

According to the Alaafin:”Generations unborn will not forgive us if we fail to promote Yoruba cultural heritage. I want to charge you to promote our cultural heritage in your respective domains. It is a challenge for us in Yoruba land if we forget our culture and tradition. Let us teach our children the Yoruba culture and tradition. There is a difference between religion and culture. Don’t be ashamed to dress in Yoruba attires. Our culture should even reflect in the way we eat”, the monarch said.

 

 

Speaking on the importance of the “World Sango Day” festival, Alaafin described Sango as one of the Alaafins of Oyo before he later became a deity, saying that “Sango possessed the ability of fighting his opponents without physical encounter.”

 

 

Appraising the aesthetics of the festival, Alaafin said that it was for the promotion of Yoruba culture and heritage, adding that people should start teaching their children Yoruba Language in their different homes and schools because according to research, someone cannot be fluent in English speaking without good knowledge of Yoruba Language, and that Yoruba Language is being taught in over 26 Universities in America.

“So, there is a need for us to take our culture very seriously”, he cautioned.

 

One of the Sango worshippers in Brazil, who was present at the event, Marli Olubunmi, (a Brazilian married to a Nigerian) in her contribution, said that although there are other Orisas being worshipped in Brazil, “Sango is very important to us.”

 

Recalling her experience, she said: “This festival is a good experience. This is my second time of attending this festival. We also worship and celebrate Sango in Brazil, but Brazilians over there don’t have idea that Sango is celebrated in an elaborate way like this. Alaafin also came to Brazil in 2014 to celebrate Sango festival with them; so, it is an interchange”, she corroborated Alaafin’s position.

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‘How we survive selling sugarcane’

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‘How we survive selling sugarcane’

I

n their efforts to earn a living and support their aged parents and siblings, youths in Burga community, Dull ward in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area have engaged themselves in various petty businesses including sugarcane business which they described as lucrative.     

 

 

Interacting with some of the youths in Burga village, they said that there is nothing like small business so far life is sustained; hence, it is better than being idle.

 

 

Mohammed  Hassan a sugarcane seller told New Telegraph that, he started the business with his father at the age of seven, and now he is 15-year-old doing the business and no regrets doing the business because they have been able to meet most of their needs like clothes and feeding.

 

 

Hassan said, “from the profit of this sugarcane selling, I was able to pay my school fees in secondary school at Bununu Government Secondary, and I am hoping with same business, I should be able to sponsor myself to the polytechnic or University to my further education.”

 

 

He said when the  sales is good, he made between N1000 and N1500 daily but when the market is not good, he made N500 daily.

 

 

He advised youths to wake up from sleep and start a business; no matter how small the business may look instead of depending on parents to provide for their needs or following politicians always. The sugarcane seller also observed that, “if you have nothing doing, nobody would like to assist you because they thought you are not important or serious with your life. So, if you want to be relevant in life, start something on your own no matter how small, you will have something to depend on rather than roaming the streets or take to drugs.”

 

 

Hassan who is yet to marry said he is hoping that in the next two years to come he would be married from the sugarcane business while praying to God to bless his business this year.

 

 

“I have seven brothers and I do help them from time to time from the business especially when the market is good for me.” Hassan whose dream is to become a military man said, he is hoping that one day he would gain admission into a tertiary institution and after his study, he will became a military officer.

 

 

“I will study hard, I want to become a military man so that I can assist in protection of lives and properties of all Nigerians, I am not happy with the way security is being handled in this country. Our security needs to improve better than this, our leaders have failed us on the issue of security and I am disturbed.”

 

 

Also Sagir Ibrahim who is popularly known as Sagir Kwada said because of their involvement in various trade is difficult to find youths in Burga community engaging in criminal activities or political thuggery. He explained that, youths in Burga are very skillful and innovative. “We all have our handiwork, we are engaged in petty business like sugarcane, tomatoes, onion, suya, farming and many others that keep us engaged daily, that is why it is very difficult to find our youths wanting for criminal activities.”

 

 

Ibrahim who sells fertilizer and herbicides, said they are in need of government intervention in form of soft loan to boost their farm business.

 

 

He said, “We make money from this business monthly and we use it to support our parents and young ones, that is why we need more government intervention so that the business will be better than this.”

 

Hajiya Aisha Mohammed, a food vendor who is popularly call Mama Burga, 29 said all they need is a little push either from government or philanthropist in terms of loan or credit to boost their business.

 

 

“You know things are hard and we don’t have much money in our hands to buy enough food stuffs that we will need to be able to meet the demand of our customers, but I believe with little help, we will do better in our businesses in this community than this,” she said.

 

 

Aisha, mother of four, three boys and one girl said she feed and clothe her children from the business and sometimes the children do assist her in washing plates and run some minors errands for her especially at home.

 

While a community leader, Alhaji Musa Talle, 63 said Burga as a community is faced with challenges of communication as they do trek long distance to seek for network services in order to make calls to their relatives. He also called on government to come their rescue.

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Argungu fishing festival: 10 years in limbo

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Argungu fishing festival: 10 years in limbo

 

Stakeholders are worried that for 10 years, the Argungu International Fishing and Cultural Festival has not been celebrated. The festival, which is usually staged in March of every year held last in 2009.

 

 

It attracted fishermen within and outside the country, including Niger Republic, Chad, Benin Republic and Cameroon.

 

 

 

Even infrastructure at the venue of the festival is now at great state of decay owing to the abandonment.

 

 

The Argungu Grand Fishing Hotel by the side of the Matan Fada River, where the event normally took place is also in a bad state. The pavilion and its environs are over grown with weeds, indicating inactivity.

 

 

Alhaji Hussaini Makwashi (Sarkin Ruwa), the `chief of fishermen,’ in the area, who also oversees the Matan Fada Fishing River, pleaded that the festival should not be allowed to die.

 

 

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN), he recounted the history of the festival, which he says dates back to 1934. Makwashi said that it started during the reign of Muhammadu Sama, as emir of Argungu.

 

 

He said that the emir invited Sultan Hassan Dan-Muazu as a way of cementing relationship and fostering unity between the Fulani people and the Kabawa people.

 

 

Makwashi said that Dan-Muazu slept in Argungu, making him the first Sultan to pass the night in the area.

 

 

“The emir sought the opinion of his people (Kabawa) to know what to do in order to impress the Sultan.

 

 

“The people came up with the idea of organising a grand fishing festival to entertain the Sultan, who was the first Sultan to visit the area.

 

 

“That proposal resulted to stronger ties between the Fulani and Kabawa people and even gave birth to inter-ethnic marriages between the two ethnic groups who were once sworn enemies,” he said.

 

 

Makwashi said that fishermen in the area had incurred losses as a result of the suspension or stoppage of the fishing festival.  “It is disheartening that this colourful and wealth generation event, which tourists from within and outside the country attend will just be abandoned like that.

 

 

“We were told some years back by the government that the event was put on hold because of the deteriorating security situation, especially when Boko Haram activities were devastating.

 

“And you know the festival attracts large number of people, who come in their thousands to watch the events.

 

 

“We reasoned with them at that point in time but now, we have overcome such threat as we have no Boko Haram fear or attacks,” he said.

 

 

 

He lamented the economic difficulties faced by fishermen and their families, adding that they depended on the festival to get money to feed their families and sponsor their children to schools.

 

 

He said that the festival hosts over 30,000 fishermen from different places and countries, stressing that many people depend on the festival for their livelihood.

 

 

“We call on Governor Atiku Bagudu, to fulfill his promise of reviving the fishing festival and also renovate the dilapidated structure at the fishing village,” he pleaded.

 

 

Alhaji Musa Argungu, a fisherman also told NAN that it had not been easy for the fishermen for the past 10 years. He said that the stoppage had caused them great economic havoc.

 

 

“This has been our business and we do it to earn our living. No one will be happy when he wakes up and discovers his means of livelihood is stopped.

 

 

“Whenever the fishing event holds, we earn reasonable amount of money that will solve many monetary challenges of our families, including money to `marry off’ our daughters.

 

 

“ Put yourself in our shoes and imagine life without such an income for 10 years.

 

 

“Do you know that on a good day at the climax of the festival, we could get as much as N50,000 to N70,000 and in just one day,” he said. Argungu pleaded with the government to revive and restore the lost glory of the event.

 

 

Alhaji Aminu Abubakar, Chairman of  Kebbi Hoteliers’ Managers Association, said the managers had lost huge source of revenue due to delay in holding the festival.

 

 

“We have over 30 functional hotels in the state and we have been managing them well. Should the festival be staged tomorrow, we are ready for the visitors.

 

 

“The business, if not because of non-governmental organisations that do come for workshops and trainings as well as wedding events, the hoteliers may close down their businesses.

 

 

“We contribute a lot to the employment generation in the state, as whenever the festival is to take place, we increase the number of our staff or employ ad hoc staff”, Abubakar said.

 

 

The manager appealed to the government to quickly organise the event to enable them get more patronage.

 

 

Alhaji Shu’aibu Aliero, the Permanent Secretary, Kebbi Ministry of Information and Culture, noted that the festival had not been held for 10 years.

 

 

Aliero said that whatever the reasons people outside the government circle might give other than the following reasons could be described as figment of their imagination. “The festival is suspended due largely to security situation in the country.

“We are living witnesses to the deteriorating security situation in the country that ranged from Boko Haram, kidnapping, cattle rustling and banditry.

 

 

“Though Kebbi has been adjudged as one of the most peaceful states in Nigeria, the fact remains that the state has borders with states like Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna and Niger that have intermittent security challenges.

 

“Furthermore, there is the issue of climate change; it is observed that the low water level of Matan Fada River cannot allow the climax of the festival to take place over the years because fishes are believed to be no longer there due to the absence of free flow of water from its tributaries,” he said.

 

 

According to him, the government waited for security situation to improve and for the water level to rise to enable her make preparations for the festival.

 

The permanent secretary said that the security situation had improved and the water level had risen, which prompted the state government to start preparations for the festival to take place either this year or early 2020.

 

 

Alhaji Umar Bena, Director of Tourism in the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Co-operative and Tourism, also attributed the suspension of the event to security challenges. “You see, basically security concern in the country is the main reason why the ceremony has not been held for 10 years. “Argungu Fishing Festival is an international event; people from different parts of the world assemble in Argungu; it will be too risky to hold such an event in an uncertain security situation,” he said. Bena expressed optimism that the event might soon hold because of the improved security situation in the country.

 

 

• Bello writes for News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

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