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Malnutrition clinic: Bauchi nursing mothers engage in petty trading to raise transport fare

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Malnutrition clinic: Bauchi nursing mothers engage in petty trading to raise transport fare

Some less privileged nursing mothers in Bauchi state have resorted to petty trading to generate money for use in transporting themselves to Malnutrition Management Centres to acquire the Ready-to-Use-Theurapeutic Food (RUTF) for their children.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that one of such centers in Darazo Local Government Area, the Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) in Darazo, attends to malnourished children both in the town and neighbouring communities far and near, with the period of treatment covering about eight weeks.

However, most of the women can hardly afford the transport fare, thus resulting in their missing some weeks without coming to collect the RUTF being given out for free.

NAN Correspondent who went to the Darazo Centre on Tuesday, observes that such mothers now come to clinic with petty items from their respective communities, which they sell to make profit and generate transport fare.

Some of the wares include local brooms, cups, sticks for stirring food, local delicacies and mats, among others.

One of the women, Mrs Aisha Garba, said that transport fare was key in ensuring that the child did not miss the weekly clinic since the RUTF was free, adding that the fare was a major obstacle for most rural nursing mothers.

“I spend N500 .00 weekly to come for the clinic and get the RUTF for my 10 month-old son, so I thought of getting something to sell during the clinic days to enable me complete the eight weeks treatment.

“I come with our local broom that women use in sweeping floor, which I source from the bush and sell for N20.00 at the Centre to enable me generate transport fare for the following week”, she said.

Another mother, Mrs Uwani Shehu, told NAN that she resides in a community close to neighbouring Jigawa state, as such she sold local hand fans and mats at the Centre whenever she came for the clinic.

Also, Mrs Maryam Inuwa, a rural nursing mother, said she sold local food stirring sticks, called ‘muciya’ to generate funds for use as transport fare.

Other mothers who spoke to NAN narrated their ordeal in trying to overcome the challenges of logistics, and had been forced to initiate means of generating stipends to cover the eight weeks clinic period.

Meanwhile, checks by NAN at the Centre indicated that most mothers are ignorant of the nutritional contents of local farm produce like beans, groundnuts, vegetables and soya beans in checking malnutrition in children.

One of such mothers, Mrs Jummai Ado, said that she produced crops like beans and soya beans, and kept same for sale to raise money during hard times.

Another mother and farmer, Mrs Mariya Musa, said that such farm produce were only sold to solve family problems.

“We have farms and produce beans and other crops, but we do not know that they are useful for the children; the main foods we eat are maize, and sometimes rice.

“Even chickens that lay eggs and produce more chickens, we sell them to generate money,” she said.

NAN reports that most mothers of malnourished children that visit the Darazo Centre come from Dogon Rimi,Gapchi Yari and Doduwa, among other local communities, while others come from distant communities sharing boundaries with other states.

The CMAM Centre in Darazo Local Government Area provides RUTF for more than 70 children weekly.

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Ensuring inclusive education for blind students

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Ensuring inclusive education for blind students

Mrs Ibrahim and her husband, Mr Mansur Ibrahim in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, did not know they gave birth to a visually impaired baby.

After some months, they observed that they could not connect expressions between them and the baby but they thought the development could be one of the early challenges among the newborns.

After two years, they sought help from a medical specialist that diagnosed that their son was visually impaired.

The specialist suggested medications to restore the baby’s sight which the couple agreed and the medications began immediately.

In spite of the medications, the condition never changed and they had to live with the pain of having a blind first child.

“We have to start looking for an elementary school where his condition will be accepted and found one school for blind and physically challenged children in FCT,’’ Ibrahim said.

The child, Ishaku, now 24 years old, is a 300-Level student of Political Science in University of Abuja.

Ishaku said: “Being the first child of my parents, I was born blind and it took more than two years and six months for my mother to discover the condition.

“My mother took me to St. Mary Specialist Hospital, Zuba in FCT, where we met a German doctor.                 The doctor tried all he could and placed me on drugs for two years, ran all manner of test but there was no positive response. The man then got me a medicated eye glasses to restore the sight, but when I used the glasses, I developed headache and I had to abandon it and continue with the medications.

“From there, I was enrolled in primary school for the blind in Zuba and I became an assistant head boy of the school until I left the school in 2008 and later got admission into the university,’’ he explained.

For Ishaku, the study conditions of People Living with Disabilities (PLWDs), especially the visually impaired in Nigerian tertiary schools, can be ameliorated if better facilities are available.

According to him, although University of Abuja doesn’t have many visually impaired students, it is still necessary for the school management to put in place facilities to aid movement and learning.

Abraham Emmanuel, Ishaku’s friend said: “I met Ishaku in Government Secondary School, Kwali and then I saw lots of students with different forms of disabilities and I felt for them.

“His hostel was different and I was curious only to discover that they were blind. I felt for them because it was the first time of seeing visually impaired people in school and it became a challenge for me.

“I later got to know Ishaku and he is a sociable person, from there I became close to him, assisting him. Ishaku is not a burden to me because, in spite of his condition, he doesn’t want to be a liability to anybody.’’

John Paul, 29, another partial blind student of FCT College of Education, Zuba, said that he could move around in the school and go about his regular school schedules unaided.

“Before my parents noticed I was blind, the doctor had to conduct some tests and they realised I had measles.

“Then I underwent a surgical operation and noticed that a socket in the eye was condemned and at that point, there was nothing to do again.

“I had no form of discrimination from students, lecturers, school authority; rather they are more concerned on how I can cope.

“Whenever handouts are distributed, I translate it to a brailing form, study by myself and during examinations, I use the manual typewriter in answering my questions.

“In my first year, after the examinations, my results were commendable and from there the school authority reposed more confidence in me,’’ he said.

Similarly, Abdulraman Lawal, a blind student of National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) in Minna, Niger, said that he gained admission on scholarship in 2016 to read Peace Studies and Conflict Resolutions but lost the scholarship in due to the inability of his sponsor to continue in supporting him.

He said that while he was in the school, NOUN had a few assistive technology tools which helped in studying but getting people to supervise the usage was always a problem.

“There was the Non Visual Desktop Assistance which, to an extent, is free and the Job Access with Speech facility which costs about 2,000 dollars; and these two technologies are majorly used in Nigeria.

“Blind people’s education and moving about is expensive and it will be useful if the Federal Government and Nigerian Universities Commission can waive the school fees for visually impaired students,’’ he said.

According to Lawal, if government does not intervene in the education of the blind, they will majorly engage in street begging and while other blind people are being born, they will follow the trend.

He also said that tertiary schools should provide technology room where PLWDs, especially the blind could access materials for their studies.

Mr Ishaq Adamu, National President of Association of the Blind, a lecturer in Gombe State University, observed that inclusion of the blind in education system had been a problem.

“The environment is not well structured to suit the blind person, whether within the university or outside the university.

“I had the opportunity of doing my M.Sc in the University of Manchester and there is Disability Support Office in all tertiary schools in the UK.

“By identifying yourself as a physically challenged person in the school, the authority will contact you to find out the specific need of your disability,’’ he said.

He commended the National Assembly for passing the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018, urging the lawmakers to monitor the implementation of the act.

However, Dr Mohammed Hamza, the Provost, FCT College of Education, Zuba, said that although the college was not designed to address the needs of the physically challenged students, the management considered few physically challenged students for admission.

“If we need to implement inclusive education, we need increased funding so we can have all the laboratories expected to address the need of physically challenged students,’’ he said.

Mr Isaac Ameh, Public Relations Officer, National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), said that the Federal Government established Federal College of Education (Special), Oyo, to address the needs of PLWDs.

Ameh said that the commission had the mandate to review the minimum standards for operating the special school every five years, adding that the last was in 2012 while “another review is ongoing’’.

He said that in the reviewing process, the commission would contact specialists on disabilities both locally and overseas to recommend the global standard for managing special students.

Ameh noted that although other colleges of education were not restricted from admitting physically challenged students, the NCCE would have to inspect the infrastructures to ascertain the standard.

He, however, observed that one special college of education might not be enough to serve the entire PLWDs in the country.

He appealed for one special college of education in each of the six geo-political zones of the country so that distance would not hinder any physically challenged person from accessing education.

All in all, Dr Precious Sango, School Director, International School of Disability Studies, a UK-based institution, said that issues such as physical barrier and societal barrier had contributed to stigmatisation of the physically challenged persons.

According to her, since the bulk responsibility of catering for PLWDs has been on the government, it is important for private organisations to support the institutions in addressing the challenges affecting the physically challenged.

Olorunfemi writes for  News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

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Tightening the noose on sexual offenders

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Tightening the noose on sexual offenders

Slowly but steadily, the issue of sexual offences is becoming a hot topic in Nigeria. Since the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC ran the sex-for-marks documentary few months ago; the decibel has gone a notch higher with several efforts being made across the country to arrest such indecency. Currently, an online petition is being collated by a non-governmental organisation (NGO) – Exam Ethics Marshals International (EEMI). It has received 1,700 signatures online on petitions to fast track the passage of the Sexual Harassment Bill before the National Assembly.

According to  Ike Onyechere, the founder of the organisation, in a statement issued in Abuja on Monday, 56 per cent of the petitioners are women, while 44 per cent are men. “This indicates that men and women are equally concerned about the sex-for-grade pandemic in the tertiary institutions,” he said.

He said that the objective of the NO-TO-SEX-FOR-GRADE Campaign was to get one million people to sign the petition to the National Assembly.

He noted that the first effort to pass the Sexual Harassment in Education Institutions Prohibition Bill started in 2016, but it died with the termination of the 8th Assembly.

“1,700 change agents have signed the online petition to Nigeria’s National Assembly to fast track action on the passage of the sexual harassment in educational institutions prohibition bill as at Monday, November 18, 2019.

“The petition to fast track the sex-for-grade prohibition legislation, activated on November 1; EEMI is in continuation of the Exam Ethics Campaign launched in 1996 to promote exam ethics and combat exam malpractice in education in Africa.

“Sex-for-Grade is one of the 33 types of exam malpractices that have been the focus of the campaign,” he said.

According to him, Sex-for-Grade is the practice of male lecturers blackmailing, forcing, intimidating and demanding sex from their female students as condition for awarding them pass marks in their courses.

He further explained that the petition had inspired other petitions for the passage of similar sexual harassment prohibition laws in educational institutions in seven other African countries.

According to him, these countries include: Ghana, Liberia, Tanzania, South-Africa, Benin Republic, Egypt and Rwanda.

“In addition to signing the petition, some petitioners are also sharing their experiences. Ex-female students have narrated stories of their traumatic experiences in the hands of some of their male lecturers. The story paints the picture of invasion of tertiary institutions by sexual predators masquerading as lecturers,” he said.

It is not only at the national assembly that the battle is on. Even at the ivory towers themselves, sexual offences are now serious issues.

At the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) for instance, the Vice-Chancellor,  Prof. Charles Igwe, warned lecturers of the university to avoid sexual harassment of their students or be prepared to face serious sanctions.

Igwe gave the warning on Tuesday at a symposium entitled, “Sexual harassment in tertiary institutions: Time for action is now”, organised by UNN Gender and Development Centre in collaboration with Women’s Aid Collective (WACOL).

He said his administration had zero tolerance for sexual harassment and would not hesitate to sanction any lecturer found guilty after thorough investigations. “Under my watch in UNN as VC, the institution will maintain and respect the motto of the university, which is to ‘Restore the Dignity of Man.”

  The VC commended the organisers of the programme, saying that it came at a period sex-for -marks in tertiary institutions had become a national discourse. Igwe, who was represented by Prof. Pat Okpoko, the Deputy VC (Administration), also advised female students to avoid indecent dressing, with the intention to lure lecturers with low moral standard.

He said: “UNN has beamed its searchlight on both staff and students that will involve in sexual harassment.

“Female students should dress well to avoid sexual harassment as provocative dressing most times lead to sexual harassment. The reason why your parents sent you to school is to read so as to graduate with good results and not to seduce men with indecent dressing.”

The Founder of WACOL, Prof. Joy Ezeilo, who spoke on the theme of the symposium, said that research by the group showed that in every three female students in any tertiary institution, one was sexually harassed.                                   She said that victims were not always ready to speak out because of the fear of victimisation or stigmatization. “Female students are always more vulnerable when it comes to sexual harassment as recent research shows that one in every three female students, one is sexually harassed.

“The law, religion, tradition and morality are against sexual harassment, but unfortunately this has become a cankerworm in our tertiary institutions,” she said.

Ezeilo, who is also the Dean, Faculty of Law, UNN Enugu campus, therefore, challenged administrators of tertiary institutions to spearhead the fight against all vices in educational system particularly cultism, sorting and sexual harassments.

“Sexual harassments have devastating effect on learning and the capacity of persons graduating from tertiary institutions in the country.

“We must seek for effective ways to curb this menace and restore the dignity of men and women and build a conducive learning environment, where academic discipline and freedom reigns supreme,” she said.

Earlier, Prof. Anthonia Achike,  Director Gender and Development Centre, UNN, expressed concern over the rising cases of sex-for-marks in tertiary institutions in the country.

Achike commended the National Assembly for its move to enact legislation against sexual harassment in tertiary institutions and society at large. “It’s unfortunate that some victims have refused to report cases of sexual harassment for fear of losing their jobs as well as the public stigma it will bring to their image.

“When we talk of sexual harassment, it is not only men harassing female students but sometimes female lecturers also sexually harass male students.

“To tackle this societal menace that has become a serious hindrance and setback to academic excellence, all hands must on deck,” Achike said.

At the House of Representatives, the Committee on Women in parliament is proposing a legislation that would recommend death penalty for rapists in the country.

Chairman of the committee, Hon. Taiwo Oluga (APC, Osun), disclosed this, at a media briefing on the forthcoming “Women Week” Conference, organised by the committee and due for November 24th. Oluga added that apart from the proposed law, the committee is in talks with the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) on the possibility of creating a special Anti-Rape Unit to clampdown on rapists.

“We (the committee) are even proposing that the penalty for rape; by the time we finish with the motion and the Bill, it will be difficult for any man to go into rape because it is very sad the way it is going; in fact I would like that death should be the penalty of any man that tries to rape,” she said.

“The rate at which our girls are being ridiculed; molested, is saddening. Since I came on board, I have made some steps, which I will like you to know. For example, I have been able to speak to the Commandant of Nigerian Civil Defence Corps, that I want him to work with our office; women in parliament, that we would like them to create a unit for us, and what will that unit be? It will be called Anti-Rape Unit. I want them to create a special unit for us, called Anti-Rape Unit”, she stressed.

Also, the Deputy Senate President,  Ovie Omo-Agege, has called for tougher laws against rape and sexual abuse in Nigeria .

Omo-Agege who was represented by his Senior Special Assistant on Electronics and New Media, Lara Owoeye-Wise, made this known at the launch of the campaign against rape and sexual abuse in Abuja. The event was  organised by Federation of West African Freelance Journalist Association, FWAFJA, in collaboration with National Council of Women Society, National Orientation Agency(NOA), Ministry of women Affairs among others.

Omo-Agege condemned the rising cases of rape, describing it as sexual harassment, bestial acts, that should be stamped out of Nigeria.

“The challenge of rape and sexual harassment of the Nigerian child is still very much with us; it seems to me that the problem has persisted either because the laws leave a lot of loopholes or the prescribed punishment is not stringent enough or both.

“Many parents and families for that matter are wary of stigmatisation which their child or children may suffer, sometimes for a life time; should it become public knowledge that they have been defiled.

According to Omo-Agege, such non-disclosures most times do not obviate the psycho-social damage which such predatory acts inflict on the child, sometimes following the victim for the rest of his or her life.

“We at the National Assembly are looking at these setbacks, with a view to making our laws more potent. We should also as a matter of national reorientation have a change of attitude with regards to stigmatising victims of child rape,” he said.

Also, speaking, Mrs Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu,  wife of the Lagos State Governor, said that rape or sexual abuse was a bad act that should be stamped out of Nigeria. Sanwo-Olu, represented by Mrs Motolani Ladipo, Senior Special Assistant to the Lagos State Governor, said that the survivors of rape usually face very excruciating difficulty, painful emotions and experiences. “For us in Lagos State, sexual abuse is an evil that must be confronted frontally, and we are leaving no stone unturned in naming, shaming and sanctioning perpetrators in line with the law.”

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When young widows bear their burdens alone

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When young widows bear their burdens alone

A woman becomes lonely and depressed when her better half and breadwinner departs from her, consequently leaving two people’s burden to one person. It becomes terribly unbearable when she has no shoulder to cry on. Inumidun Omobulejo, with agency, reports

 

Folakemi Adeyanju, a 27-year-old widow became naturally became depressed after losing her husband three years ago, especially as   she has to cater for her three children alone. Adeyanju is among many young widows suffering from depression who realised that the condition may eventually put an end to their existence. According to her, loneliness, grief, deep thought of taking care of the children, financial burden, unforeseen circumstances, rejection from both families, friends and colleagues, among others, cause depression for widows.

“Further to that, there are stigmatisations, fear of the unknown, and isolation, in most cases; you are so pained in horrible situations without a confidant.  Sometimes you have nothing left in the house to eat and everyone you contact gives a negative reply; you look at the children, look around and begin to wonder what the future holds for you and for them; it is terrible,’’ Adeyanju said.

Perceptive observers note that over the years, young widows are faced with various challenges ranging from rejection, stigmatisation, career loss, depression, loss of self-esteem, child’s care and property loss.

In a recently conducted survey, 63 young widows explain the major challenges they face and how they cope with the situation. In their separate responses, 88.5 per cent of the respondents say they are depressed, 63.9 per cent of them report experiencing low self-esteem, while 52.5 per cent of the respondents complain challenges in child’s care.

Similarly, 37.7 per cent of the respondents said they lost their property, 18 per cent of them alleged that they were rejected by spouse family, 6.6 per cent of them reported career loss and 4.9 per cent of the respondent said they were stigimatised.

Mrs Ene Okolo, 26, said that widows were depressed in so many ways such as when they were threatened by the deceased family over property and money he left in his bank accounts.

“I was left to do the burial of my husband alone and foot the bills of my children education; and when I refused to get re-married to my brother in-law, they told me I would come back crying.

“Nine months after, my only son was crushed to death; did I not come back crying? Now, I’m always unhappy, lost the confidence to live as bills keep coming,’’ she said.  Mrs Shola Oluwanuga, Chief Consultant Psychiatrist with National Hospital, Abuja, said “depression is a mood disorder that primarily affects the person’s mood.

She said that a person suffering from depression would always be unhappy, noting that some people who did not enjoy a life he or she expected could be depressed. “If a person is just recently bereaved, they could be unhappy, they could be crying a lot, they may not sleep well; such a person is not depressed yet, the person is just going through grief.

“But when a person is bereaved and you expect him or her, within three to six months, to start reintegrating and carrying on with normal life but it is not so, then depression has set in.

“If he or she lacks energy, interest in things that are happening around, poor appetite, poor sleep beyond six months of bereavement, you may need to look at it as depression,’’ she observed.

She, however, advised that if a bereaved was in a sad mood, lack of interest in things that are happening around that usually interest him and lack of energy beyond six months of mourning, he should seek medical help.

Oluwanuga, nonetheless, observed that some widows might suffer mild depression that only required counseling. She advised family and friends to understand and be confidants to those suffering mild depression which might serve as immediate intervention in the onset of depression. But young widows insist that widowhood rights in the country are in short supply as almost every respondent agrees that 95.2 per cent of young widows do not have rights that could address the plight of widows.

However, 4.8 per cent of the widows noted that the Federal Government has a strong widowhood rights in the country. Mrs Damilola Adams, 29, said that the widow’s rights in Nigeria were not enforceable by law, stating that it was the reason for the widows’ nightmare. She said that nothing was done constitutionally to abolish treatments against the widows, insisting that only governments and stakeholders could create lasting solution to the challenges. “To resolve the challenges, governments and all religious bodies must always act, preach against it and detest bad attitudes to widows,’’ she said.

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Arresting scourge of sexual molestation of minors

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Arresting scourge of sexual molestation of minors

Femi Ogunshola

Almost on daily basis, we read about rape and sexual harassment of minors even by those old enough to be their grandparents.

Psychologists blame this bizarre attitude on unbridled lust and insatiable urge for sex.

However, defilement of underage is outlawed by Section 218 of the Criminal Code, Cap. 42,Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

The section provides that:  “Any person who has unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under the age of 13 years is guilty of felony, and is liable to imprisonment for life, with or without whipping.

“A prosecution for either of the offences defined above in this section must begin within two months after the offence is committed.

“A person cannot be convicted of either of the offences defined in this section upon uncorroborated testimony of one witness.”

Adegboyega Adenekan, a 47-year-old ex-Chrisland School Supervisor, who defiled a two-year-old pupil in 2016, was recently sentenced to 60 years jail term by an Ikeja Domestic Violence and Sexual Offences Court.

Justice Sybil Nwaka handed down the sentence after convicting Adenekan on a count charge of defiling a minor.

The little child had given a detailed description of how Adenekan defiled her.

According to Titilayo Shitta-Bey, the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution, the defendant committed the crime in November 2016.

While narrating the nasty experience, the police officer told the court that “the child took us upstairs to the defendant’s office and his seat and the restroom where the offence was committed.”

According to the 2-year-old girl in a video clip of the interview with the police and shown to the court, the little girl said that the supervisor put his “wee wee” in her “wee wee” two times.

The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Jigawa Command, also in March arrested a 65-year-old Adamu Abdullahi, for allegedly raping and impregnating a minor at Unguwar Gawo village, Babura Local Government Area.

The victim, a street hawker, who deals on onions, explained that the suspect used to buy onions from her and in the process invited her into his house, where he raped her.

She said that Abdullahi raped her five times and always threatened her life should she tell anybody about their affairs.

“He used to give me money and threatened to kill me if I refuse; or if ever I informed anybody,” she stated.

Mr Adeola Opeyemi, a human rights activist and lawyer, who shared experiences gathered at an Ogba Magistrates’ Court, Lagos State, lamented the increasing cases of rape and sexual assault against minors.

According to Opeyemi: “I saw many rape cases of underage, between 12 years and13 years old, with neighbour’s son or landlord’s son, as the case maybe.”

The lawyer said that there must be reason behind the rape of these little girls, when the perpetrators could easily satisfy their sexual urges with N1,000 at any brothel.

He stated that a campaign against rape of underage must be launched immediately to put a stop to such ignominious act capable of causing a devastating psychological effect on the victims.

Opeyemi noted that the campaign must be now, noting that any delay could further embolden the rapists to keep perpetrating their nefarious activities, adding however that “we must not wait until it affects us.”

The operatives of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) in Abuja, also arrested two suspects for allegedly raping and impregnating four schoolgirls.

The suspects were one 41-year-old Festus Femi, an installation engineer and 51-year-old Luka Ekundayo, Bursar of Government Secondary School, Dangara, Abaji, Abuja.

Femi was said to have raped three students of Government Secondary School, while Ekundayo was alleged to have drugged, raped and impregnated a 15-year-old student.

Ekundayo, was the victim’s guardian in school, and she often spent short holidays in his house.

She was ill, while Ekundayo gave her some drugs to take, after taking the drugs she slept.

On waking up, she saw bloodstains and felt uneasy, but did not suspect that Ekundayo, whom her grandmother handed her over to, for protection, could do anything sinister.

The victim, who was on scholarship was said to have been threatened by the suspect into having sex with him continuously or he would be force to tell her sponsors to stop paying her school fees.

Mrs Cynthia Jude, a psychologist, blamed the rising cases to the reluctance of the victims to report the case to the appropriate authorities.

She said that the perpetrators cannot be punished to serve as deterrent to others, if the victims failed to report.

Jude said that most victims of rape suffer in silence because of fears of being stigmatised, adding that reporting rape can be emotional and difficult.

This, according to her, has left many victims to lick their wounds in silence, noting that the Nigeria structure do not encourage reporting rape cases.

She, however, advised victims to think less of stigmatisation and be bold enough to report rape cases.

Jude called for stiffer punishment for those who specialised in raping minors, adding that harsh provisions would dissuade perpetrators from committing the dastardly crime.

The psychologist also appealed to the government to create an enabling environment, where sexual assault victims can get access to forensic medical assistance and professional counselling services.

• Ogunshola writes for the News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN)

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Aishah Ahmad: Leading the charge for women in financial services

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Aishah Ahmad: Leading the charge for women in financial services

More than being the Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mrs. Aishah Ahmad is a study in critical thinking, resilience, and intelligence. Within a space of 20 minutes, at the just-concluded World Bank/IMF 2019 annual meetings in Washington DC, she held her audience which includes global financial players, spellbound.             

        WALE ELEGBEDE, who witnessed her presentation on ‘Cybersecurity Exercises: Experience from Sub-Saharan Africa’, reports

 

 

 

F

or the audience that witnessed the capacity development session of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on ‘Cybersecurity Exercises: Experience from Sub-Saharan Africa’, held at the Gallery, HQ1-R-700 of the Fund in Washington DC, United States, the brilliance and delivery of the Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mrs Aishah Ahmad, is clearly a round peg in a round hole.

 

With her impeccable competence and first-hand understanding of issues under consideration, she held her global audience at the just concluded World Bank/IMF 2019 annual meetings, spellbound; digging issues beneath the surface, providing multiple perspectives, challenging the conventional arrangement and addressing issues in context.

 

Taking over the podium after a brief introduction on the topic by IMF’s Christopher Wilson, the delectable Aishah Ahmad, who looked smart as a whip in her colorful grey suit trousers, explained the technological innovations and shifts that the CBN is adopting to prevent breaches in cybersecurity within and outside Nigeria.

 

Ahmad also shared the experience from Sub-Saharan Africa following the exercises undertaken by the IMF in six Sub-Saharan African countries and this has helped to strengthen cyber resilience and identify priorities for improvement.

 

Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks. These cyberattacks are usually aimed at accessing, changing, or destroying sensitive information; extorting money from users; or interrupting normal business processes.

No doubt, cyberattacks and data breaches have been on the rise globally and have become a big challenge for many. In simple language, cyberattacks affect the automated teller machine (ATM), disrupt Bank’s customer data and corrupt the payment and receipt system.

 

“Cybersecurity is not an IT issue, it is not an issue for chief information officers. It is a business risk issue and a regulatory risk issue. And because it has the potential to disrupt IT operations and financial sectors and its ability to disrupt the mandate that we have as for financial stability, it is important that central banks focus on resilience,” she said.

 

While noting that the CBN has some guidelines and frameworks in place, she said the frameworks it’s about strengthening and identifying where there is a need to improve layout regulations so that they are fit for purpose.

On the activities of financial technology (fintechs) companies in Nigeria, she said that the CBN has taken steps to enhance the regulation of their activities, adding that the apex bank will ensure that the regulation does not stifle innovation in the segment of the market.

She pointed out that a lot of disruptions from the fintech has been from the payment space, stressing the need for increased supervision by the regulator.

 

“The way fintechs are disrupting the Nigerian financial space, a lot of it has come from the payment space. So, you see them more active in the space for receipts where they are already getting licences from us.

“We’ve seen disruptions in the savings space and disruptions in the micro-lending space.

 

“So, these are not organisations that the CBN is not aware of. But broadly speaking, our focus has been to identify these organisations.

“That is why we are trying to finalise the incubation of some of these companies. So, there are those we need to identify and watch what they are doing and there are those we need to refine our regulatory framework for; because right now, it is skewed to banks and the payment service companies.”

 

Continuing, she said: “We are also looking at moving from regulation by identification, to more around regulating their activity.

 

“So if you are not a bank, you cannot get a banking license, but if you operate as a bank then we have to regulate what you do. We are looking at ensuring professionalism as well as in what we do in terms of regulation.

“We don’t want to stifle innovation, so we want more companies to come up and assist, because fintechs do a lot in furthering the financial inclusion objectives of the central bank.

 

“The central bank is working very hard in that respect and we are open to all organisations that are willing to come on board.”

“So you see them more active in the space for receipts where they are already getting licenses from us. We’ve seen disruptions in the savings space and disruptions in the micro-lending space so these are not organisations that the CBN is not aware of but broadly speaking, our continuum shall be to identify these organisations and that is why we are trying to finalise the incubation of some of these companies”.

 

Fielding questions from the audience, Aishah, said because cybersecurity has the potential to disrupt IT operations as well as the financial sector and its ability to disrupt the mandate that central banks globally have for financial stability, it is important that central banks focus on resilience.

 

Alongside the IMF, Aishah said hands-on innovation on inclusive cybercrisis management to strengthen cybersecurity across sub-saharan Africa is already in process.

A banker and investment adviser, Aishah Ahmad has over 20 years of certified experience with global financial institutions such as Stanbic IBTC Bank, Zenith Bank PLC and Bank of New York Mellon, Diamond Bank, among others.

With a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of Abuja, Ahmad did not rest on her oars. She also bagged an MBA with a specialisation in Finance from the University of Lagos and an MSC in Finance & Management from Cranfield School of Management, United Kingdom.

 

Aishah Ahmad is an accountant, financial analyst and financial manager. She was appointed Deputy Governor of the CBN on 6 October, 2017. She replaced Mrs Sarah Alade, who retired in March 2017. Prior to her appointment, she was Head Consumer Banking & Investment at Diamond Bank.  She was confirmed by the Senate on 22 March, 2018.[6] she was born in sokoto, although she’s from Bida, of Niger State

 

Although she was born in Sokoto, she is an indigene of Bida, of Niger State. The energetic  Aishah graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Abuja. Her Master of Business Administration, majoring in finance was obtained from the University of Lagos. She also holds a Master of Science degree in Finance and Management, awarded by the[8] Cranfield School of Management in the United Kingdom. She is a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) and a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).

 

 

The bright and vivacious Aishah started out in the private sector as a Group Accountant at “Manstructs Group Nigeria Limited”. She then worked at Z.O. Ososanya & Company. She transferred to First Interstate Bank (Nigeria) Plc., as Executive Assistant, Treasury Group.[4]

Amazing on all kinds of level,  she later worked as head of Retail Banking at Zenith Bank Plc and as Head of Private Banking at NAL Bank Plc, which today trades as Sterling Bank (Nigeria). She has also served as the head of business development at Zenith Capital Limited.[4]

 

Other assignments in the past have included stints at the Bank of New York Mellon in the United Kingdom and at Synesix Financial Limited, also in the United Kingdom. From 2009 until 2014, she served in various capacities at Stanbic IBTC Holdings, including as Head, High Net Worth Individuals.

A mentor par excellence, she is passionate about women’s development, hence her stewardship as the chairperson of the executive council of Women in management, Business and public Service (WIMBIZ); a Nigerian Non-Profit organization where she was part of the establishment in 2001 which focused on addressing issues affecting the interest of women professionals in business, with particular attention on promoting leadership development and building capacities to engender growth. The doting mother of two wonderful teenage boys was listed as one of 100 most inspiring and influential women in Nigeria by Leading Ladies Africa and Ynaija.   She is happily married to Abdullah Ahmad, a retired Brigadier General of the Nigerian Armed Forces,from Bida, Niger State. She is also known as “Nee Ndanusa.”

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Mum & Parenting

Sperm bank taken to court after mum who picked ‘6ft donor’ gives birth to dwarf

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Sperm bank taken to court after mum who picked ‘6ft donor’ gives birth to dwarf

A sperm bank’s website has been blocked after a woman gave birth to a child with dwarfism.

The woman – a successful writer whose identity has not been disclosed – chose a father for her child from pictures of donors on the site.

She and underwent successful IVF treatment at her private Moscow clinic after paying for his sperm, reports mirror.co.uk.

She was attracted by his fair-haired looks, higher education – and height of more than 6ft, according to reports in Russia.

At more than 40-years-old she believed this was her last chance to have a child.

But in the later stages of pregnancy, the unborn boy was detected with suspected achondroplasia, a rare incurable disease suffered by one child in 20,000 that causes dwarfism, a Moscow court heard.

This was confirmed after birth and she was told her son, now two, would grow to a maximum adult height of roughly 4ft, and that his limbs and facial features would not develop “correctly”.

The woman said she wanted to warn other sperm bank customers of the risk.

Koptevsky district court ordered the blocking of the website of Danish sperm bank Cryos in Russia, and ruled that using its services would flout Russian laws.

Health watchdog Roszdravnadzor said it was not satisfied with case details handed over by the sperm bank.

These included a “medical genetic examination” of the donor, analysis of his “mental and physical condition” and a family tree with details of relatives.

“However, it is not possible to confirm the reliability of the information received,” said the watchdog.

The company says it screens donors for 46 of the most common recessive genetic diseases.

The sperm bank told ‘Moskovsky Komsomolets (MK)’ newspaper that all the sperm it supplied was of excellent quality “but we are not responsible for the mistakes of the clinics” which carry out IVF treatment.

“We only know that our biomaterial is of high quality,” the paper was told.

The clinic called Mama did not comment.

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67-year-old woman gives birth in China, may be country’s oldest new mom

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67-year-old woman gives birth in China, may be country’s oldest new mom

She may look like a grandmother — but a 67-year-old woman in China is believed to be the country’s oldest new mom after giving birth to a healthy girl.

The sexagenarian, who was only identified by her surname Tian, welcomed her bundle of joy Friday at Zaozhuang Maternity and Child Health Hospital via cesarean section, according to CNN.

Tian, a retired doctor who’d worked at the same hospital in the Shandong region, naturally conceived after taking traditional Chinese fertility treatments, a hospital spokeswoman told the network.

“We were quite lucky, given that the mother was at an advanced maternal age and had a variety of complications,” Chief Physician Liu Chengwen told the state-run CCTV Plus.

The fact that the mom’s reproductive system was in great shape likely contributed to her ability to get pregnant late in life.

“When we examined the woman’s reproductive system during her labor, we found that she, unlike most other women in their 60s who have withered ovaries, has ovaries similar to that of women in their 40s,” said Chengwen. “That’s probably one of the reasons she was able to conceive naturally.”

Tian and her husband, 68, are believed to be the oldest couple in the country known to have naturally conceived a baby, CCTV said. They learned they were pregnant during a routine checkup in May.

Tian’s pregnancy was not without complications, however. She suffered from severe preeclampsia, heart failure and abnormal liver and kidney function — which is why doctors opted to deliver via C-section.

Their healthy baby girl weighed 5.6 pounds at birth, reports The New York Post.

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Mum & Parenting

67-year-old woman gives birth in China, may be country’s oldest new mom

Published

on

67-year-old woman gives birth in China, may be country’s oldest new mom

She may look like a grandmother — but a 67-year-old woman in China is believed to be the country’s oldest new mom after giving birth to a healthy girl.

The sexagenarian, who was only identified by her surname Tian, welcomed her bundle of joy Friday at Zaozhuang Maternity and Child Health Hospital via cesarean section, according to CNN.

Tian, a retired doctor who’d worked at the same hospital in the Shandong region, naturally conceived after taking traditional Chinese fertility treatments, a hospital spokeswoman told the network.

“We were quite lucky, given that the mother was at an advanced maternal age and had a variety of complications,” Chief Physician Liu Chengwen told the state-run CCTV Plus.

The fact that the mom’s reproductive system was in great shape likely contributed to her ability to get pregnant late in life.

“When we examined the woman’s reproductive system during her labor, we found that she, unlike most other women in their 60s who have withered ovaries, has ovaries similar to that of women in their 40s,” said Chengwen. “That’s probably one of the reasons she was able to conceive naturally.”

Tian and her husband, 68, are believed to be the oldest couple in the country known to have naturally conceived a baby, CCTV said. They learned they were pregnant during a routine checkup in May.

Tian’s pregnancy was not without complications, however. She suffered from severe preeclampsia, heart failure and abnormal liver and kidney function — which is why doctors opted to deliver via C-section.

Their healthy baby girl weighed 5.6 pounds at birth, reports The New York Post.

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Mum & Parenting

When children have to fend for their families

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When children have to fend for their families

As the economy bites harder, women and children seem to be mostly at the receiving end of it. They feel the pangs the more. Nowadays, more children are seen braving the odds on the roads, at bus stops and inside traffic,  hawking different items. Most of those that New Telegraph spoke with, insisted that their parents asked them to hawk in order to support the family. For them, it is a means of survival. AUGUSTA NKENCHOR reports

 

Born into the slums in Egbeda axis of Lagos, having her mum died during child birth, eight-year old Enitan Adebayo was forced by life circumstances to live with her grand mum who also died five years ago. Hence, she had to live with her aunt and living with her aunt turned out to be a nightmarish experience she didn’t imagined. Her aunt according to her, gave rules that for her to have access to formal education just like her peers who attend schools, she must hawk bottles of liquid soap and plantain for her. After school closing hour, she has to continue hawking till it gets dark. With this, she doesn’t have enough time and settled mind to read and do assignments given to her from school.

As for Ikechukwu Okafor, 14, who hawks groundnut, life has no meaning outside hawking, as that is his only means of survival. In fact, he had to drop out of school in order to assist his family to eke a living. He told New Telegraph that he sells seasonal fruits and items, for this season, it is groundnut and garden egg to support his poor family.  Okafor said he had to leave school when he noticed that his parents were struggling to feed him and his siblings, even to pay their school fees.“Right from primary six, my parents, especially my mother have been struggling to take care of us.  If they do not pay school fees on time, the school authority will chase us out of the classrooms and I usually got embarrassed. It continued like that till I got to government Secondary school where only text books and PTA fee were the only demands they make of us but still, my parents found it difficult to still meet up, thereby subjecting me and my siblings to ridicule,” he said.

Okafor resolved to dropping out of school from JSS 2, but he said it was difficult at the initial stage to be on the streets instead of the classroom where his friends and peers assemble every school days. As time goes on, he got used to hawking and hawking anything that he comes across. As it is, Okafor is thinking of going to learn handiwork, mechanical engineering precisely. For him, education has been totally ruled out.

Speaking with, Amina Tajudeen, 12 is a primary six pupil who hawks soft drinks, bottled water and sachet water in basin, said she was forced by her parents to hawk because they are facing economic hardship. Even with that, she still finds time to go to school but she was not in the classroom as at 12.33 pm when New Telegraph met her at First Gate bus stop along Ogba road, Ikeja.  Her excuse that day was that, there was no food at home, their electricity unit got exhausted and her parents needed to pay for her elder sister’s Junior WAEC exam. According to her, her daddy is a factory worker but has not been home ever since her mother tabled the list of needed items in the house, consequently, the mother asked her children to go out and hawk anything that would sell fast. Reason, she was found inside the traffic hawking soft drinks but she claimed that was her first time on the road. She explained that she makes between N800 and N1000 a day.  Contradicting her ‘first time on the road’ claim, she disclosed that she doesn’t do well in school again because she misses class to hawk and she has to hawk after school in which she was always unable to do her assignments. “Any time it is terribly unbearable at home, my mother cancel school for me for that period and ask me to face hawking fully- morning and nights. My classmates used to make jest of me when they see me on streets, I would cry and even be ashamed but not anymore. They have stopped making jest of me because I give them money and some of the items I hawk,” she said.

According to Tosin Akinkuowo, age 14, “I work because we are poor in my family and we are too many in the family, that’s why I carry loads for people inside the market to get money.” As for Akinkuowo, nothing like school on his mind because he ekes home daily minimum of N8000 from load carrying he does in the market. With proceed from his work, he said he has been able to establish his mother with petty trading in kerosene and small scale provisions. His father, he said is doing ‘just fairly well to support his mother and the home front with his vulcanize work

Initially,  Akinkuowo said he went to learn Photography so that he could gain freedom soon and start making money but it wasn’t as he planned because he couldn’t raise money to buy the needed camera. That was what drove him to go to ‘Oja Oba market, along ABule Egba axis of Lagos to do little load carrying in order to raise money for camera but got hooked to the job. “On the day that I am lucky, I go home with the sum of N15,000 and minimally, it is between N8000 and N5,000. I just told myself what else am I looking?” He said.     

Speaking to David,13-year-old who sells pure water, goes to school in the morning and hawk after school. And at weekend, he tag along with senior Disc Jockey (DJ) to learn to be a DJ. It is not easy for him because he has little time to concentrate on his studies. He said he sells because his mother told him to be selling water so that he will be able to pay his school fees and buy his textbooks. “But I make money from the DJ apprenticeship than the hawking. I just hawk because  my mom’s  ask me to and I love my mom, I wouldn’t want to disobey her,” he said.

Mrs. Patricia Nwoye, a parent and trader at Egbeda market told New telegraph that they don’t like the way their children hawk on the street, but because they are poor and there is no enough money to send them to school and foot other necessary bills, that is why they  ask their children to hawk on the streets. Nwoye also said that though the governments have tried to stop them by arresting any children they see hawking on the streets but they still don’t have choice but to continue because that’s the way they can get more money.  She explained that is not what she wants for her children, “I actually want my children to go to school, to be well educated but I have limited power money wise. But I believe that one day they will make it and become somebody in the society too,” she said.

The above mentioned stories are few out of millions of Nigerian children who have to hawk to survive and if possible be educated so as to meet up with their peers in the society. According to UNICEF, more than 10 million children in Nigeria live below the poverty line  i.e they live below two dollars per day and more than 12 million are out of school.  Despite the fact that they do their hawking business, they still find out time to do their homework at night with the dim light of nearby shops  and their trays by the side of the table to hold their writing materials.

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Govt should design policy for mental health – Oma Anona

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Govt should design policy for mental health – Oma Anona

Marilyn Oma Anona is a young Nigerian TV host who illustrates that starting from the scratch is not a myth. Apart from a mental health therapist, she is also a multimedia and social entrepreneur, coach/counsellor,  writer, public speaker, master of ceremonies, event host and the host/producer of the phenomenal TV talk show “Oma Living Show” that runs online

 

 

What brought about the ideal of the NGO?

As the first child out of seven children, the goal was for me to study medicine and surgery at the university being very academically sound, but I took everyone by surprise when I decided to take another path which is actually a path of purpose and destiny. I made history by daring to become the first entrepreneur in my entire extended family which used to be dominated by academicians, civil servants and corporate professionals. Today, because of my courage, some of my family members have also ventured into entrepreneurship. Today, thousands of Nigerian youths have also found their purpose because of Marilyn.

Before I became a full time entrepreneur, I worked as a presenter for MYTV Africa where I hosted a show called Poetry Pot. I also worked for Media Options, a media organisation in Abuja where I was a writer and Vox Pop presenter. Since 2015, we have produced 50 episodes of the Oma Living Show which is about four seasons.

So what else do you do?

We run a humanitarian platform known as ‘The Right Stage Project’, which is focused primarily on human capital development for young people in our public schools, school drop outs, women, girls, less privileged in the society and the millennial. It seeks to empower and provide lasting solutions to nagging issues in the society. This has also led us to lead several campaigns, aimed at making our society better.

Campaigns like S.A.D which stands for-suicide, anxiety and depression. We started this in 2018, which provided awareness, education, advocacy and support for mental health issues that are the leading causes of suicide. And we have had a lot of that lately. 

What is your impression about how the society views depression?

People think that depression is not an illness. They also think that it some voodoo sent by their “village people” as a result, our people do not pay attention and before you know it, suicides occur. But depression is a health challenge that can be treated through therapy and clinical help. It has become a serious issue in our country and I think there should be a proper policy to tackle mental health challenges. There should be clinics around communities where folks can get in and get help.

How about jungle justice, sexual assault, what do you say to those?

There is still a lot of work to be done there. Even our law enforcement carries out jungle justice too. But it is nothing compared to what the people do. The campaign on sexual assault is to help curb or reduce high incidence of rape and other sexual offences that impede human development and endanger lives.

We equally champion campaigns on domestic violence and other societal vices. Right now, we have the campaign on balance through the Balance Network.

What is the Balance Network about?

We realise that there is a lot of dysfunctional young people who need help. So we decided to reach out or enlighten millennials on importance of making adequate time for various aspects of their lives based on their values and purpose in order to live a more fulfilled life. Basically we try to bring order and purpose to the lives of young people in various aspects of their lives, like relationships, job hunting, work ethic, start-up, emotional intelligence, social interaction, patriotism and many others.

Tell us about your TV Talk Show?

The Oma Living Show started as a TV Talk Show, but has since grown wider and bigger to be a media and social brand engaging in real projects aimed at positively transforming and changing our society and humanity by concentrating on the people that live in and make up the society and humanity. The show which is multi themed is known for, tackling nagging issues like entrepreneurship; celebrating unsung heroes and bringing them to limelight; soft skills inculcation, training and orientation; values, purpose and character orientation; mental health advocacy and awareness and other social campaigns.

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