Sunday, 17 February 2013

Unveiling of Benola: A Cerebral Palsy Initiative

Nigeria will become the centre of the world on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 as high-profile experts from different fields gather in Lagos to educate the public as well as public policy makers about the problem of cerebral palsy, what legislation is needed to address the problem in Nigeria and the funding required to provide facilities.

The unveiling of Benola, a cerebral palsy initiative would take place on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at the Sun Room, Four Points by Sheraton, Oniru Chieftaincy Estate, Lekki, Lagos beginning from 9:30 am.

The founder, Air Vice Marshal Femi Gbadebo (rtd) OFR said the unveiling would be followed by a nationwide campaign.

“Benola Palsy Initiative, a non- governmental organization has concluded plans for a nation-wide sensitization campaign aimed at evolving proactive steps to help parents and guardians of those living with the condition to have access to better management techniques and counselling. The Initiative intends to create a resource base and accurate data of people living with the condition which will then be used to determine the best location for facilities and research centres” the statement said.

The organization frowned at the general state of stigmatization of certain ailments in the country and government’s insensitivity to the plight of those living with limitations, pointing out that what such people needed from society was not pity but a measure of love and understanding.

“If you visit countries outside Nigeria especially Europe, America, Australia or Canada, you will not find any physically challenged person begging for a living. In those countries, society has risen to its responsibility of caring for such citizens. Families of those living with limitations are recognised as care –givers to the disabled persons and given the necessary support to devote their lives to caring for them”.

The founder of the organization said he was motivated to set up the Initiative because of their knowledge of the plight of parents and victims of cerebral Palsy.

According to him the source of funding for the initiative,would be from the private sector as well as well-meaning individuals to key in and help sustain the project.

Civil Society Mobilises for Centenary Peoples Summit

There is a need for the civil society groups in Nigeria to continue their enlightenment and mobilization of the masses towards the attainment of true governance under a representative democracy.

The Deputy Convener of a NGO, Nigeria Peoples Centenary Group, Mr Olarenwaju Suraju stated this while addressing newsmen about plans to organise a centenary conference.

The centenary conference is against the background of the centenary of the country’s amalgamation.

Mr. Suraju explained that the centenary conference would target the Nigerian people, representatives of indigenous communities, human rights groups both at home and in the diaspora, diplomatic community among other relevant stakeholders.

He pointed out that the forum would be an opportunity to explore the line that all hope is not lost for the country notwithstanding the mistrust among the different ethnic nationalities in the country.

Mr Suraju expressed optimism that the centenary summit would enable all stakeholders in the Nigerian dream to make a critical assessment of the state of affairs that would result in possible international consensus on practical steps needed to save the country from a political explosion.

Furthermore, he called on Nigerians not to give up on the struggle for continued unity and progress of the country.

“We cannot allow the international community to see our nation as disunited. And our diversity should be to advantage and as the basis of strength”, he added.

On the occasion, the President of United Middle Belt Forum Mr. Abukar Omobaba stressed that the Middle Belt is not part of Northern Nigeria but an ethnic nationality in the country.

Mr. Omobaba said it was necessary to clarify the continuous inclusion of the Middle Belt as Northerner claiming that they did not benefit from the region.

The Nigeria Peoples Centenary Group is a coalition of different civil society organizations.

The Centenary conference is scheduled to be held in Lagos, and also the United States and United Kingdom later this year.

Nigeria was amalgamated by the British on the 1st of January 1914 by Lord Fredrick Lugard, two years before the outbreak of the First World War and the centenary celebration was declared by the Federal Government in January 2013.

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs):AFTER THE DEADLINE

With less than three years to the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the United Nations, State Parties and partners have been working towards the development of a successor framework which is all inclusive, taking into consideration lessons from the MDGs and present development realities.

Towards this end, Nigeria as a priority country has been chosen to host National Consultations to get the inputs of citizens on the character and content of the next global development goals.

The purpose of the national and thematic consultations is to gather the views of Nigerians from across different spectrums of the society – government and policy makers, parliamentarians, civil society, media, private sector, faith communities, women and farmers’ associations, the disabled and youths on their perspectives to development realities post 2015 which will be top priorities for Nigeria building on the MDGs and other national policies including the Vision 20:2020 and the MDGs Countdown Strategy.

During the National Consultation, there will be thematic sessions on the following nine areas: inequalities, education, health, population dynamics, housing and urban development, governance and accountability, rule of law, human rights and poverty, environmental sustainability and hunger, food security and nutrition.

The event will feature a keynote address by Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala.

Follow me on Twitter: @Ogaugust451, for live tweets during this programme with the hashtag- #After2015

Monday, 11 February 2013

7th Beko Ransome-Kuti Memorial Symposium

We are still fighting for what Beko fought and died for. It is time to better re-organise to overcome our oppressors.

That was how Beko Ransome-Kuti's sister Yemisi Ransome-Kuti could better describe her brother's quest for a better Nigeria.

Yemisi Ransome-Kuti stated this during the 7th Beko Memorial Symposium held in Lagos.

She explained that her brother believed that the various issues facing the country could be addressed through a Sovereign National Conference with the representatives of all the ethnic groups.

Miss Ransome-Kuti mentioned corruption, fradulent electoral processes,insecurity and religious intolerance as major challenges affecting the development of Nigeria.

Governor Fayemi of Ekiti state while delivering a lecture titled "Constitutional Gridlock: The Way Forward" urged Nigerians and the civil society to begin to mobilize in order to make the country a better place.

According to him, Nigerians must stop agonizing and instead start mobilizing against bad leadership.

He also lamented the high rate of insecurity in the country saying this was as a result of the poverty ravaging the country.

He agreed that the country's constitution was flawed but said Nigerians must continue to have their way. He advised that everyone must have an input in how he wants to be governed henceforth.

Furthermore, Governor Fayemi praised the late Beko Ransome-Kuti's style of activism and stressed that years after his demise, nobody has fitted well into his shoes.

A lecturer from the Lagos State University Dr. Femi Obayomi said it is an illusion to believe that Nigeria was united against the backdrop of diversed ethnic nationalities that are large enough to become a nation of there own. He stressed that it suit those that want to manipulate Nigerians to believe that we are a united nation.

Another Comrade in the struggle Afolabi Gbajumo described the centenary anniversary of Nigeria as a sham and not worth celebrating. In his words "is it 100 years of corruption, ethnic conflicts, embelzement or oppression of the poor that they want to celebrate? At the end of the day billions of Naira would go to the pocket of some few individuals" he added.

Comrade Gbajumo said 100 years of Nigeria's existence has not been fruitful and does not call for any form of celebration.

The Beko Ransome-Kuti Memorial Symposium which is in it seventh series is held annually to discuss issues that affect Nigeria and keep the dreams of the activist alive in the minds of the civil society organization in the country.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Close to Home

In the last couple of days, I have been too close to people who lost their loved ones in the course of childbirth.

The first was a friend's cousin who went into comma after childbirth at the famous Lagos University Teaching Hospital LUTH, she died after a month leaving behind husband, children, among other family members.

The other person was a stylist in a salon who died while giving birth to her fourth child. The painful part was that she was under thirty years and already has three children. She died with the baby as she could not be delivered of the baby.

As I pondered over these deaths I could not but ponder how close maternal and child deaths are for all women even though I was not related to the victims directly. Yet in all of these where lost, families devastated, life time memories gone with the pain as these women fought till the end.

The needless deaths of women and children continued despite global efforts since 2000 when world leaders agreed to improve the standard of living of the common man, through the eight millennium development goals, MDG's.

For Jude Osaze "when I hear the statistics of women who dies during childbirth in Nigeria, I doubt the statistics and wonder, how they came about such exaggerated record. But am now convinced that more women are lose there lives during child birth. Do you know that in some rural communities, women patronize traditional birth attendants and some of these births and deaths are not documented,he added.

The story of Yomi Pearse was agonizing. "I lost my wife during child birth even after all the antenatal and precautions taken to prevent her from dying. But alas! my dear wife died given birth. The baby survived but my precious wife is gone. Every time I looked at that child I tried to regret getting her pregnant but that was meant to be our last child because we agreed on having three kids. Atinuike struggled till she could not fight any longer. She lost so much blood after delivering the baby and we had to buy six pints of blood but all to no avail. She died with a smile on her face. I wept day and night for weeks but it did not bring back my baby girl, he said with pain on his face.

Some culture pride having many children as a big deal. Among the Mbaise people of Imo state, when a woman gives birth to twelve children, she is celebrated by killing a goat/cow for her. Depending on the wealth of the family. With the harsh economic realities and poor state of our health facilities, will a woman risk her life in the name of cultural celebration?

In as much as the Holy Book said multiply and fill the earth,now men should consider many factors before getting their wives pregnant. I also know of a school of thought that believes that children brings progress and success.

My parents named me Uzoma which according to my mum was because my birth ushered in economic advancement for my dad. My mum said that my dad bought his first Peugeot car after my birth.

As Africans,in as much as we hold strongly to our belief system, should we sacrifice our sisters,daughters,wives,in-laws,cousins,nieces in the name of childbearing? When it is obvious that the odds are against a lady getting pregnant and having safe delivery.

The God-factor is inevitable when miracles happen, when a lady could have been written off by science and medicine.

But daily, many lives are lost during childbirth across Nigeria. The only reason we might not know or feel it, is because it is not "close to home" I.e. that loved one who died was not our immediate relatives.

It is now a common trend for most Nigerians that can afford to pay for efficient and reliable healthcare facility to go abroad for child delivery. Apart from the fact that it could be done for the child to have dual citizenship, many do it to avoid stories that touched according to our Nigerian comedians. Millions of Naira are lost annually as Nigerians keep patronizing these foreign hospitals.

I know of a friend who gave up suing a hospital for the death of his sister during childbirth because according to him the more the case was drags in court, the more i get frustrated and the pain increased knowing justice was eluding us, he said. This is the Nigerian environment for you.

How committed are our government officials to fight towards improving maternal care?

Sometime last year I sat in a committee to determine the fate of our women as regard safe delivery and I saw that politics was more important than the improvement of maternal care and child mortality.

I will sing the praises of Governor Segun Mimiko who established a specialist hospital to ensure safe delivery. The Abiye hospital which, I visited last year in Akure Ondo state, is to improve maternal health and reduce child mortality.

In the hearts of many mothers in Ondo state, that they are able to give birth safely due to the Abiye project cannot be erased in a lifetime.

It is time for more government actions in ensuring that our healthcare facilities are worthy of receiving new lives during childbirth and not snuff out lives from both mother and child.

May a death "close to home" of a woman dying during childbirth not bring the realities, that one in ten women loss their lives during child birth.

Safe delivery is the right of every woman in Nigeria and not a trial and error incident that has now become a testimony in our places of worship.