Saturday, 31 May 2014

COUNTERING THE BOKO HARAMITE NARRATIVE By Sesen Manifesto


“Warring Zebra should not invite a crocodile to mediate”

It has taken some time to complete this piece, my début post on this blog. I have received death threats online via social media & email for refusing to accept what I have labelled the “Boko Haramite narrative”. My growing unease over both the International & local media depiction of both the traumatic kidnap of the girls in Chibok but also the partisan reporting in regard to the dichotomy that is Nigeria, I felt compelled to not only counter the many mistruths in regard to the deceitful narrative that is being presented to not only Nigerians but the wider International community but also Inform on what is truly underway in northern Nigeria & the consequences for the viability of the federal republic.

Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad (The Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad) or Boko Haram as they are more commonly known, were founded by firebrand Kanuri Islamist Muhammad Yusuf. Pre-2009 Boko Haram largely existed in far northern cities such as Maiduguri, & had been pejoratively labelled “Taliban” by many Northern Nigerians. They existed largely within the confines of  preaching sectarian hatred & conservative, regressive wahhabi Islamic Ideology. Boko Haram whilst under the leadership of Yusuf were involved in many murderous attacks on Igbo & northern indigenous Christians, denouncing of Sufi & Shiite muslim leaders & attempts to enforce their hateful doctrine onto other Muslims. They had also attacked police stations & military outposts in the region for weapons, as at this time they did not have access to sophisticated weaponry. Many media reports have suggested that the extrajudicial killing of Yusuf in police custody was the catalyst for the development of Boko Haram into the outfit it is today, but there is little evidence to support this. The precise reason for the crackdown under the Yar’Adua administration was due to the escalating attacks of Boko Haram on civilian populations & state personnel in Borno, Yobe, Kano and Bauchi. The opportunity to acquire certain weaponry was accelerated by the disastrous consequences of NATO’s illegal conflict in Libya & with it the subsequent flood of arms across the sahel from the Gaddafi arsenal.

So why the attention on Chibok? In the past 18 months in Borno alone, significant killings have occurred. Across Northern Nigeria bombings of Churches, bars, bus parks & pogroms of Christians, student dorm massacres & the killings of southern NYSC students have all occurred without western outcry, twitter hashtags or foreign secret service intervention. Quite simply, this particular crisis also ties into the Obama administration’s “Pivot in Africa” strategy, one that has been (until now)  largely resisted by the Nigerian government. Never one to miss an opportunity to exploit a crisis, the western powers are using this tragedy as a pretext to force western military and security “advisers” onto Nigeria to establish both a permanent presence in the country & also a direct counterweight to increasing Chinese influence in Nigeria & West Africa.  The killing of Muammar Gaddafi & the subsequent destruction of Libya has allowed the CIA to establish a permanent AFRICOM base in the country, whilst further turmoil in Nigeria (whilst keeping the nation intact) leaves no immediate pressure on the US government but can prevent & even reverse the recent trade agreements signed by the Chinese government.  The terrorist group in Nigeria are the same as the well funded, western backed groups used to overthrow Gaddafi & attempting to unseat President Assad of Syria.  We should not be fooled as to the intention of Imperialists. There is nothing humanitarian about this intervention.

President Goodluck Jonathan has been reluctant to truly address the elephant in the room in regard to Boko Haram & this is largely due to his perilous position as head of state. It was January 2012 that President Jonathan declared that Boko Haram had “Infiltrated the executive, legislative and judicial arms of government as well as the police and armed forces”.  It is well known that Boko Haram have enjoyed the patronage of Northern elites for some time.  Kabiru Sokoto, the orchestrator of the christmas day bombings of St Theresa’s church in 2011, was arrested in Borno state lodge in Abuja, only to be released by police to avoid further questions into his relationship with Governor Shettima & other prominent northern politicians. The sackings of the police heads involved did not stretch into investigations surrounding what other agents were also involved in this treasonable action.  There are major players in the North who want to remove Jonathan from power, and an attempt to do so under the guise of religion should not be acceptable to Nigerians.

The Berom & other indigenes of Nigeria’s “Middle belt” have long complained that the Fulani herdsman have often had the backing of the military when they have massacred entire villages, complaints that went without proper investigation despite overwhelming evidence to support their claims.  As recently as 14th May 2014 soldiers shot at their commanding officer, Maj-Gen Ahmed Mohammed, after discovering his collusion with Boko Haram in an ambush of their fellow soldiers, leading to 17 military casualties.  The consequence of government inaction leads to conspiratorial claims that become harder to refute & it is therefore essential that the Jonathan administration takes decisive action in prosecuting those found to be colluding with Boko Haram. Reports of another suggested amnesty will do little to discourage further atrocities & its necessary for societal cohesion for those guilty of such heinous crimes to be found accountable. Impunity leads to contempt on all sides.

President Jonathan was never supposed to assume power in Aso Rock. The  terminally ill Umaru Musa Yar’adua was foisted onto the Nigerian public by former President Obasanjo after he had been successfully thwarted from manipulating the constitution & allowing himself a third term of office. The PDP was successfully satisfied with Obasanjo’s spurious claims (palms were greased) to allow Yar’adua, an obscure figure in national politics, to run for president & achieve power in what was a largely fraudulent procedure.  With the subsequent death of Yar’adua whilst head of state, Nigerians were watching incredulously whilst the Vice President was not allowed to assume power or even see the body of the deceased President. During this period serious political manoeuvring to ensure a Northern man replace President Yar’adua, but to no avail.  Former President Obasanjo has now twice been thwarted by the constitution in a bid to maintain power & the desire of other major political players to assume what they perceived to be their entitlement.

Unlike Obasanjo, President Jonathan has no ties to the northern elites & natural powerbase to fall back on. Nigerian politics being what it is, he owes his rise to power massively to the criminal convictions in the UK of both James Ibori & Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha, two of the major “Big men” in the Niger delta.  Jonathan’s administration crucially is also led largely by IMF darling & former world bank MD Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who is currently the minister of finance.  This has dislocated the historic power balance in Nigeria, whereby the British left power to the Northern Fulani/Hausa feudal Aristocracy, who have led Nigeria directly or via proxies post 1966.  The US support for the weak Jonathan administration, not only breaks from this mould, but is a direct threat to Northern Hegemonic power in Nigeria. This is not a clash of religions as the current narrative is so eager to present, but a clash of old feudal power & a weak administration. Neither have the interests of the Nigerian populace at heart but the methods used by elements within the Northern governors to install a vote of no confidence in President Jonathan could well precipitate a second civil war.

Substantial Christian populations exist in Northern Nigeria, and Muslim populations in the south. This false reporting of “Predominantly Muslim north” owes itself to the rigged census that preceded Independence, manipulated by the British government & has been used to justify & manipulate Northern power.  The attacks on the many Christian villages in the north of the country is also alerting many to question the veracity of many claims. Poverty, whilst unquestionably prevalent in the North, exists greatly in southern Nigeria also. There is no simplistic way to explain Nigeria, a nation of extreme diversity simply from village to village. The need therefore to reject disingenuous narratives is  imperative to truly deal with the myriad problems the nation is facing.

As things stand in Nigeria, there is quite simply too much money being made by elites across the country for any of them to truly agitate for secession, irrespective of the conditions of the masses. With little transparency & billions of dollars allocated to state governors, there is little incentive to break from the status quo. But quite simply, irrespective of neo-colonial intention, a spotlight has been shed on both the Incompetency of the Nigerian ruling elite & the utter contempt they hold  for the common citizen.  All Nigerians deserve better.

It was during one of many conversations pre-independence that First President Nnamdi Azikiwe said to Tafawa Balewa “Let us put aside our differences”. Balewa wistfully shook his head and responded “No my friend, lets understand our differences”. Sadly for Nigeria, neither option was undertaken. It is time now to have that conversation.  Reconcilable or not, this situation is no longer tenable.


You can follow the writer on twitter: @kay_sesen

 

 

 

 



Thursday, 29 May 2014

Promenade Youth Initiative: Preaching The Gospel of Leadership and Entrepreneurship

        

                                       
                                                      Hezekiah and Akinwumi

The duo of Hezekiah Shobiye and Akinwumi Akingbolahan founded the Promenade Youth Initiative in September 2012, out of the passion to impact and change the lives of young people in public secondary schools within Lagos.  The duo planned on reaching out to 10,000 youths by 2016 and this they set to achieve through the gospel of leadership and entrepreneurship.


"We realized a gap between what leadership is and what young people perceived to be leadership. The only way we can bridge this gap is by contributing towards teaching them, when they are young and grow up with an understanding of how they can lead and create great businesses. We advertised for youths to volunteer in impacting leadership and entrepreneurship skills to young secondary school students. The first batch was in 2013, we worked with five public secondary schools in Lagos reaching out to about a 1,000 senior secondary schools students. This year we are reaching out to 1,600 students in 10 schools and those that graduated from our Programme last year will be a part of the Promenade Clubs we are forming this year". 

                                    
                                             2014 Volunteer Michael Ndukwu


A two week training was organised for the second batch, of forty-five volunteers before the commencement of the Programme. According to Michael Ndukwu who is part of the second batch of volunteers, I want to impact entrepreneurship skills into these students because I believe the future belongs to them. Many young people need someone to look up and I am glad to be that person, he said.

   
                                                        With Mrs Sade Adefisayo


A renowned educationist Mrs Sade Adefisayo who trained the volunteers on "Effective Facilitation Skills for Engaging Students in Class" said young people don't learn from they don't like. "At that stage of their life, you can be that person that can change their life forever. When you get to the class have a goal to impact and never loose focus of that. It is exciting seeing these young people growing up to be great people later in life. That is my fulfillment as a teacher and I want you to embrace this opportunity as such. Never underestimate any child because we are now at a time when they have access to so much information. Believe in them and give them direction, that is what they need to achieve their dreams and ambition", she added.


According to Hezekiah Shobiye, talk is cheap but at Promenade Youth Initiative we believe in action and that is our way of contributing towards societal change. "The Nigeria we want can be achieved by young people and this change can go beyond Nigeria. Many Nigerians can argue intellectually but when it comes to action, we can't find them. Promenade Youth Initiative provide a platform for young people to contribute in changing Nigeria. That's the spirit behind this initiative".




First UN Environment Assembly in Kenya to Address EnvironmentalSustainability By Ayo Okulaja



The First UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) will convene in Nairobi, Kenya, from 23 to 27 June 2014. This marks a historic milestone in UNEP’s 43-year history and is expected to be attended by high-level delegations from over 160 UN Member and Observer States.


UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon, the President of the UN General Assembly, Ministers of Environment and Foreign Affairs and Chief Executives of a number of international organisations are set to attend the newly-established UNEA that will bring together over 1,200 high-level participants from government, business and civil society.

UNEA is the newly constituted UN high-level platform for decision making on environment that is tasked to chart a new course in the way the international community addresses environmental sustainability challenges. More than 80 Ministers, Vice-Ministers, Secretaries of State as well as heads of international convention secretariats have confirmed their attendance, so far.

UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Mr. Achim Steiner, said, “The convening of the first UNEA session in Nairobi – home of UNEP and the often referred to environment capital of the world – represents a coming-of-age for the global environment community. For the first time, all 193 members of the UN, plus Observer States and major stakeholders, will be represented in the new assembly—thereby bestowing upon UNEA a new level of representation, legitimacy and authority.”

“A broad range of actors from the world of economy, finance, social sciences, legislation, the judiciary and development are also due to participate to help shape the global environment agenda, under the stewardship of UNEA. The issues facing this first session of UNEA are weighty ones which require the voices of all member states and partners to be heard.”

“Now more than ever, it has become increasingly clear that the dichotomy between environmental sustainability and economic and social development should be overcome through the careful management of natural resources as the keystone of a prosperous and stable society. In this new forum, UNEP and its partners will be able to provide governments and other policymakers with the science, policy options and platform, for international cooperation to more effectively address the environmental dimension of sustainable development,” he added.

For Kenya, the host country of UNEP’s headquarters for over four decades, the convening of UNEA in its capital city of Nairobi marks another milestone in this pioneering partnership.

Ambassador Martin Kimani, Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said, “Kenya is ready to welcome the world’s leading environmentalists and world experts, working in all areas related to sustainable development to UNEA in June. Our country has made immense strides in building a Green Economy – observe our cutting edge geothermal developments and the high percentage of our GDP from nature tourism.”

“The success of UNEA and UNEP are high in our priorities. Kenya is taking every measure to ensure the success of this landmark event. We are inviting delegates from around the world to actively participate in this historic moment and make their contributions to the assembly in a safe and friendly city that is rolling out every welcome to them,” he said.

As the new governing body of UNEP as well as the world’s Environment Assembly, UNEA has the mandate to make strategic decisions and provide political guidance in the work of UNEP, and promote a strong science-policy interface.

The first UNEA session is expected to deliver a series of outcomes that would spell out concrete actions to address the key environmental challenges discussed at UNEA.  Where appropriate, UNEA may also recommend draft resolutions for adoption at the United Nations General Assembly for UN system-wide action.

Time to talk periods: Coalition declares first-ever Menstrual Hygiene Day

 

WaterAid has joined coalition of organisations including WASH United, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Save the Children, todeclare the first-ever Menstrual Hygiene Day which held on Wednesday, 28 May 2014.  

 

On any given day, more than 800 million women between the ages of 15 and 49 are menstruating. Yet menstruation remains a taboo subject.

 

In many countries, menstruation is surrounded by a lot of myths including banishment from the family home to an outdoor shed during each cycle. These myths range from harmless to extreme and even though, in many cases, they dateback to ancient times they continue to persist even now.

 

UNESCO estimates one in 10 African girls miss school during their periods, leading to a higher dropout rate.

 

Clarisse Baghnyan, Coordinator of WaterAid’s Regional Learning Centre for Sanitation said:

 

We need to make a shift in our thinking and attitude and bring an end to the stigma that still surrounds menstruation. For the sake of our girls and women, it’s time to start talking about this issue. The myths and taboos around periods can and do take a heavy toll on the health of our girls and women, especially in developing countries such as Nigeria. We must ensure that our girls have decent and separate toilet facilities in schools otherwise their health is put at risk and they are likely to miss or drop out of school rather than face the humiliation of finding somewhere private to change. By talking about periods, we can help normalise this natural process and help girls and women live healthier and more dignified lives.

 

WaterAid works in more than a dozen countries across Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia to teach women and their families how to care for themselves properly during their periods. School projects range from building private, gender-separate toilets and taps for washing to creating hygiene clubs where girls learn how to sew washable, reusable sanitary towels.

 

                                                                                    16 year old  Lydia from Uganda don't attend school whenever she is menstruating.


This year, WaterAid’s West Africa office, in conjunction with WaterAid country programmes in Nigeria and the region, will conduct a research to help develop strong programmes on Menstrual Hygiene Management and reinforce our work for more impact, especially in schools. The research will also identify key actors for collaboration, capacity building needs for civil society and local government partners, and areas for advocacy.


WaterAid supports UN’s call to end open defecation

                               
 


 

WaterAid welcomes a new UN campaign championed by UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson to end the practice of open defecation.

 

Over 1 billion people around the world relieve themselves in bushes, in fields or at the sides of roads or railway tracks for lack of even a basic, shared pit in the ground. This is 14% of the world’s population, or one person in seven.

 

Where there is open defecation, pathogens spread quickly, causing diarrhoea, cholera, bilharzia (a freshwater worm) and other diseases.

 

Recent WHO/UNICEF JMP figures for Nigeria show that the number of people with access to improved sanitation facilities has dropped even further from 31% last year to just 28% of the population now. This means about 122 million Nigerians do not have access to improved sanitation and a staggering 39 million (23% of the population) practice open defecation.

 

Based on these figures, indications are that at present rates of progress, Sub-Saharan Africa overall will not become open defecation free until 2063.

 

WaterAid is campaigning for everyone, everywhere to have access to safe water and basic sanitation by 2030. Some 748 million people in the world are without safe water, while another 2.5 billion are without adequate sanitation.

 

Dr. Michael Ojo, Country Representative of WaterAid Nigeria, said:

 

“It is time for a drastic change to the status quo. It is hard to believe that in this day and age, people must still risk their health and dignity for the lack of a basic toilet. It’s even more difficult for girls and women who risk danger and harassment every time they go in search of a private place to relieve themselves. Safe water and basic sanitation has to be a top priority in effectively tackling extreme poverty. We call upon our leaders to take action.”

 

Without basic toilets, girls are more likely to drop out of school, and adults are less able to care for their families or to work, exacting huge social and economic costs.

 

The new UN campaign to end open defecation is expected to last till the end of next year, as the UN develops a new set of development goals to replace the original Millennium Development Goals.

 

Among the goals were pledges to cut in half the proportions of people without safe water and sanitation, respectively. Though the overall universal target on water has been met; some individual countries, especially developing countries like Nigeria, are yet to meet those goals and those still without safe water are the hardest to reach. The target on sanitation remains the most off-track.

 

Recently, in April this year, Nigeria joined 44 other developing countries at the Sanitation and Water for All High Level Meeting and committed once again to achieving universal access to water and sanitation and eliminating open defecation nationwide by 2025.

 

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

The National Conference and The Environment By Greg Odogwu

    
 
It was quite refreshing to watch as the Committee on Environment submitted its report at the ongoing National Conference. Considering that matters affecting the environment have always been put in the back burner when national issues are discussed, the sight and sound of statesmen and key stakeholders discussing these vital concerns on live television can only be described as music to one’s ears. The committee deserves commendation because it takes character to stick to the real issues while overlooking underpinning political nuances. Truthfully, the environment has the potential to unify the nation, because the ubiquitous ecological hazards do not know tribe, religion or partisan affiliation.

The beauty of the report is that it is a product of wide consultations with key stakeholders in the environmental sector, especially the legal players. For any kind of reform to work, it must be structured within a workable legal framework which can stand the test of time. It is a global practice today for lawyers and legal researchers to be actively involved in issues such as renewable energy and climate change. This is because both the policy and the contract documents emanating from these engagements need effective legal spirit in order to survive the harsh world. For instance, legal actions against environment-polluting corporate bodies in the Western world have helped to redefine, and also set the template for current international environmental laws. Instructively, foreign investors are worried about investing in Nigeria’s natural resources because of fear of our scant environmental legal framework: a small lacuna can make either the nation or the investor lose everything with little chance for redress.

Secondly, the committee also set its eye on the fundamentals, and what its searchlight located is quite shocking. Simply put, Nigeria’ constitutional reference to the environment is insulting, and clearly shows where we are as a people.
 According to the committee’s report, “Although the environment is fundamental to our existence as citizens and as a nation, the 1999 Constitution made only a passing reference to the environment and environmental rights at its Section 20. For Nigerians to secure the environment and related rights this has to be placed among the Fundamental Rights section of the Constitution and made fully justiciable. 

A related issue is that by the multi-layered nature of the environment and its crosscutting nature in our national life, the environment is best protected when all tiers of government have clearly defined roles to play in these. Therefore, the administration of the environment should be in the concurrent list in the constitution. The 1999 Constitution did not locate the environment at all in its fiscal schedules.”
Little wonder then, the government finds it hard to come up with competitive core environmental policy standpoints, and often fails to efficiently implement lasting environmental initiatives. For those that continuously ask why it is so, the National Confab has solved the puzzle. Most of our problems are vitally as a result of this constitutional neglect. A nation’s Constitution is its vital force; therefore, the environment is not encoded in the Nigerian DNA – or in its financial blood groupings.

Interestingly, this oversight is perpetually repeated by the political parties whose behaviours are actually a reflection of the psychological status of our ruling class. A quick check in the major parties’ manifestoes reveal that the environment is mentioned in passing, either as a ritual ‘copy and paste’ or as a shallow technical consideration aimed at just “fulfilling all righteousness” for nominal political purposes. This should not be so. If our politicians are serious global players and upwardly mobile, a couple of them should recognise that Nigeria is big enough to have a Green Party, as it is found in other countries. Surely, if we had a green party, the constitutional blunder identified by the Confab committee would have been in the national front burner many years before now.

The other faux pas is that our Constitution refers to ‘waste’ as ‘refuse’, thereby trivialising – and confusing – the issue of waste management. On this, the committee notes, “Primarily, the objectives of waste management are urban hygiene and environmental protection, material conservation and energy generation. Waste management in Nigeria is still at a domestic level and not integrated with other sectors. This is evident in various Federal and State Sanitation laws. However, in other countries waste management is being mainstreamed into national development. Waste management is no longer a household problem requiring “house-to-house inspection” but an urban-scale environmental challenge that demands a “chain of control from generator to manager”.   Therefore, waste management requires a more integrated and well-engineered social instrument to synchronize it with the economic development of a Nation. It is imperative therefore, that the Conference for good development of Nigeria examines and integrates the basic framework of waste management into the nation’s Constitution for sustainable development.”

Thirdly, the committee raised important legal and policy issues which when implemented would help the fight against fight climate change: like the need for NIMET to only be a clearing house for establishment of meteorological stations – and not “sole authority to approve and establish” – in order to fill the gap of dwindling met stations across the nation.
I must confess that I find some of its recommendations weak with loose ends for easy manipulations by politicians, though the committee’s report is still a work in progress to be streamlined by the general house. For example, considering  that a number of existing laws are either inadequate or require urgent review, it recommends that the NESREA Act 25 of 2007 that set up Nigerian Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency be amended to enlarge its statutory duty to include oversight of oil and gas. The committee forgets that the NOSDRA Act is already in the process of being strengthened to give it more bite for oil and gas oversight, but later recommends, in general terms, that “The National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) should be well funded, and allowed to recruit more personnel to carry out its functions.”

Furthermore, there are various recommendations as to key agencies, e.g. Ecological Commission, National Forestry Commission, etc, to be established by the government in order to strengthen the government’s efforts in the environment sector. But the committee fails to discuss climate change under the purview of a central management system, but rather as strategy steps most of which already exist in the National Policy on Climate Change, thereby undermining the essence. Some countries already have full-fledged Ministry of Climate Change as national focal points. Ours is just a department in a dingy corner of the Ministry of Environment, poorly funded, ill-motivated and beggarly, whereas we already have a robust and ready National Climate Change Commission bill waiting on President Jonathan’s table.

To the pessimist, the committee’s recommendations would surely end up in the country’s legislative dustbin or in the Presidency’s dark drawers, destined to gather dust until the next administration decides to clean out the closet and burn every trash. The optimist would say the beautiful words in the document will soon come to life in Nigeria, because words are the vital power for national life. But to me, even if the document ends up unused, unnoticed and unwanted, it has effectively served two purposes. One, it is a vital output of catharsis – where a nation represented by its vital stakeholders regurgitates decades old nauseating abuses of its vast God-given resources; and allows itself to feel what it is to be human. Two, it will continue to be a burden in the collective unconscious of every Nigerian for eternity. In fact, for those that believe in God, the Almighty has sent his messengers to speak to us and our government; because the National Confab delegates are the voice crying in the wilderness!

Redeemed Christian Church of God Takes Free HealthCare To Doorstep of Apapa Residents

                       
    


It was a banquet of free healthcare services as Women Arise Initiative an arm of Redeemed Christian Church Of God:City of David Parish berthed at Apapa.

   
  

The Women Arise Medical Team patrolled the streets of Apapa in an ambulance announcing to residents to come out enmass to access basic healthcare services which were all for free.

    
   

Among the healthcare services offered to the residents were malaria,typhoid,blood-sugar tests, blood pressure and dental check,health talk,counseling and drugs administered to the residents.

   
   

The Convener of the Women Arise Initiative, Pastor Mrs. Siju Iluyomade explained the project was borne out of the need to care about the physical and medical well being of women, also to lend voice to issues related to women. According to her, any nation that lift up women would be lifted up in return. Women Arise has been to different parts of Lagos like Makoko, Lagos Island, Surulere, Ebute-Metta and intends to reach out to other parts of Lagos.

    

Pastor Iluyomade said the Women Arise Initiative was also in support of the Bring Back our Girls Initiative which brings to mind the need for the government to ensure every Nigerian is well taken care of.

    
   

Further speaking, she expressed concerned on the need for healthcare services to be available and accessible to all and sundry as a healthy people result in healthy nation. 

                       
   

"Apapa has a diversified mix of different ethnic group and as we can see all are united in the need to access healthcare services. This shows that there are many things that can unify us as a nation. The impact of our outreach in places we have visited is heart warming. seeing the smiles and satisfaction in the faces of the people and the comfort that they feel knowing someone is concern about their health,pushes us to do more", she added.

    
  

The Head of the Medical Team, Dr. Ademola Lafenwa pointed out that high level of ignorance among the people has resulted in some cases where participants don't even know the status of there health and they have serious health issues.


"Today one of the person I attended has a very high blood sugar and also hypertensive. He is not even aware of any of these conditions. People don't know they can approach the nearest health center within their vicinity for medical care. They think health centers are meant for only babies and immunization exercises. Also that if they visit hospital, they will be charged heavily for services delivered and conclude that hospitals are designed for the rich only. Lagos state government has ensured every primary health center is assigned with a medical doctor but the level of awareness among the people to use these health centers is low. This is worrisome".

   
   

The turnout was massive as residents thanked the Women Arise Medical Team for offering free healthcare services that would have cost them some amount of money to access.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

WaterAid launches new interactive map as Africa Water Week begins inDakar



A new interactive map, published by the international development charity WaterAid, has been launched online showing that if Nigeria increased access to clean drinking water by 3.2 million extra people every year, it would be on track to reaching the historic mark of everyone in the country having access to clean drinking water by 2030.

The map has been released on the day that Nigeria and other African water ministers and delegates arrive for the start of African Water Week conference in Dakar, Senegal for crucial talks as to whether they should back a proposed new global Sustainable Development Goal for universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene by the year 2030.

WaterAid are lobbying Nigerian ministers and other delegates for the conference communiqué to include such a commitment.

Dr Michael Ojo, Country Representative of WaterAid Nigeria said:

“This map shows that a new water, sanitation and hygiene Sustainable Development Goal that puts Nigeria on track to everyone having access to these essential services by 2030 is realistic and achievable.

“Nigeria is one of a number of African countries that with relatively modest improvements in levels of access can achieve this historic milestone.

“Nigerian Ministers at Africa Water Week conference should grasp this opportunity to set in motion a happier, healthier and more prosperous future for everyone on the continent.”

The map is understood to be the first online interactive data representation project produced with a predominantly African audience in mind, which is increasingly online and social media savvy.

According to the World Bank, around 55 million Nigerian’s are now internet users, while over 7.4 million have Facebook accounts.

The African Water Map shows that in Nigeria, 6 million people are gaining access to water each year, but that this needs to increase by an extra 3.2 million people per year, so that everyone everywhere across the country would have access to clean water by 2030.
The map also shows that 0.5 million people are currently gaining access to basic sanitation in Nigeria every year, but that this will need to increase by an extra 12million people to reach everyone by 2030.

Currently in Nigeria 64% have access to clean drinking water, but only 28%, have basic sanitation.

Around 73,000 Nigerians die every year because of diarrhoea diseases attributable to a lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene.  A lack of access to these essential services is also understood have a substantial impact on the prevalence and mortality associated with pneumonia, and under-nutrition on the continent.

The UN has estimated that half the hospital beds in developing countries are filled with people suffering from diseases caused by poor water, sanitation and hygiene.

The 5th Series of the Africa Water Week conference (26 – 31 May), convened by the African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW) in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC), is taking place in Dakar Senegal under the theme “Placing Water at the heart of the post-2015 Development Agenda”.

UNICEF CALLS FOR UNITY AT ALL LEVELS TO PROTECT CHILDREN


As we celebrate another Children’s Day one area where our collective responsibility is urgently required is the protection of our children. The collective includes the family, community, society and the state. Every day in the media we hear of one form of abuse or the other against children, rape of under aged children, child trafficking and so on. But the abduction of more than two hundred school girls recently underscores the urgent need for collective action. We need to create a protective environment for our children to ensure a bright future for them.

The protective environment is based on the recognition that all children are entitled to protection – as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Nigeria’s Child’s Rights Act 2003. All children have a right to grow up in an environment that ensures their protection. UNICEF helps to create a protective environment for a child which fortifies them against abuse in the same way that good nutrition and good health care fortifies them against disease. We are working with the Nigeria Police, the immigration service, the Federal Ministries, departments and agencies to achieve this.

Our best efforts in survival and development will come to nought if the child is abused later in life, put in harm’s way through abduction and trafficking. Even strong, healthy children can be victims of abuse. A well-nourished and immunized child who is beaten is not a healthy child. A young girl in school is likely to be not well educated if she is sexually abused by her teacher. She would drop out of school. The fear of abduction will erode all the gains we have made in girls’ education. Jean Gough, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria added, ‘Let us all work together, collectively to ensure that our children are protected against harm so they can grow into productive adults who will contribute to the development of Nigeria in future’

NIGERIANS UNAWARE OF RISING RATE OF HEART DISEASE IN THE COUNTRY

 
Latest research poll conducted by NOI Poll have revealed that 52% of the adult Nigerian population are unaware of cases of heart disease in their locality; hence the neglect of vital signs and risk factors resulting into incidents of heart disease by the majority. More findings have revealed that majority (67%) of the respondents stated that they have checked/measured their blood pressure in the last one year; and when asked about the result of the check, the vast majority (82%) reported that their blood pressure was normal. Only 6% stated that their blood pressure was high, 4% stated low and 8% either did not know/remember or refused to answer. The group composed of respondents of 61+ years and above (28%) had the highest proportion of respondents with high blood pressure, followed by the 46 to 60 years group with 10%. Furthermore, the BMI calculated using the height and weight scores of the 441 respondents who provided these details (44% of the total) revealed that almost half (48%) of the respondents are either overweight or obese (which are considered as risk factors for cardiovascular disease). These were the key findings from the Cardiovascular (Heart) Disease Poll conducted in the week of May 19th 2014.
 
Brief Background
Cardiovascular disease (also called heart disease) is a class of diseases that involve the heart and the blood vessels or both. It is the leading cause of deaths worldwide and 80% of the burden of Cardiovascular diseases now occur in developing countries, although, since the 1970s,cardiovascular mortality rates have declined in many high-income countries. At the same time, cardiovascular deaths and disease have increased at a fast rate in low- and middle-income countries.  Although cardiovascular disease usually affects older adults, the antecedents of cardiovascular disease, notably atherosclerosis (narrowing of blood vessels), begin in early life, making primary prevention efforts necessary from childhood.
 
The most common manifestations of cardiovascular disease are coronary artery disease; leading to high blood pressure, heart failure, cerebrovascular disease - disease of blood vessels that supply blood to the brain such as stroke, peripheral arterial disease - disease of blood vessels that supply blood to the arms and legs etc. The common terms used terms for these are “Heart Attack”, “Stroke” and “Hypertension”.
 
The World Heart Federation, on examining all current research, concludes that several risk factors for cardiovascular disease are modifiable, meaning they can be changed, treated, or removed. These include high blood pressure (hypertension), obesity, tobacco use, physical inactivity, high blood cholesterol levels etc. Individuals can reduce their risk of heart disease by controlling as many risk factors as possible through lifestyle changes. There is therefore increased emphasis on prevention by decreasing one’s exposure to known risk factors by means of healthy eating, exercise, and avoidance of tobacco.
 
Against this background, NOIPolls and EpiAfric have partnered to conduct a poll on the issue of cardiovascular disease. Using a questionnaire that was jointly designed by EpiAfric and NOIPolls, we collected data from 1,000 Nigerians. The objective of the poll was to understand the risk of cardiovascular disease in Nigeria. This was done by measuring the exposure of Nigerians to known risk factors of cardiovascular disease.
 
Key Findings
The first question sought to measure the awareness of Nigerians on cardiovascular disease. Respondents were asked:  Are you aware of heart (cardiovascular) disease in your locality?Responses revealed that almost half (48%) of the adult Nigerian population are familiar with heart disease. The level of awareness was equally high for both genders. The majority of respondents (52%) however were not aware of cardiovascular disease. 
 
The highest level of awareness on cardiovascular disease was expressed by respondents from the North-East zone (65%), senior citizens aged 61+ (63%) as well as teenagers and young adults who are 18-21 years of age (60%).



The second question aimed to gauge the level of concern of Nigerians on heart disease. Respondents were asked: Are you worried that you may personally be at risk of having heart (cardiovascular) disease? The majority (77%) of Nigerians are not concerned about personally being at risk of having cardiovascular disease and this cuts across gender, all geopolitical zones and age-groups.
 
Respondents from the North-West, South-South and South-West zones (81% each) were least concerned, while respondents from the North-East (36%) zone (with the highest level of awareness on heart disease) showed more concern of being at risk of having heart disease. Similarly respondents aged 18-21 years (10%) with a relatively high level of awareness on the subject were least worried of personally being at risk of having the disease. 


High blood pressure (hypertension) has been identified by the World Health Organisation as one of the major risk factors of cardiovascular disease. High blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. With the aim of assessing the proportion of Nigerians who have checked or measured their blood pressure in the past 1 year, respondents were asked: Have you checked/measured your blood pressure in the last 1 year? Two-thirds(67%) of the respondents claimed they have checked/measured their blood pressure in the last 1 year with the highest recorded in the South-South zone (78%). This could either be deliberate or as part of the procedures during a visit to a health facility.
 
The proportion of Nigerians who had their blood pressure measured in the last one year increased with age. The 18-21 years age-group (54%) had the smallest and the 61+ years age-group had the largest proportion (81%).

Bulletin of the World Health Organization Volume 91, Number 4, April 2013, 237-312 


Subsequently, respondents who claimed they have checked/measured their blood pressure in the past 1 year (67% of the total) were asked: What was the value of your blood pressure the last time you measured? The vast majority (82%) of them, irrespective of gender, age or geopolitical zones, confirmed their blood pressure was at normal level. 6% reported their blood pressure as high at the time it was measured and 4% claimed it was low. In addition, while 7%refused to disclose their blood pressure level, 1% of the respondents did not remember the value.
 
Furthermore, amongst 6% of respondents who had a high blood pressure measurement last year, slightly more male than female respondents reported their blood pressure as high (8% compared to 5%). Respondents aged 61+ (28%) have the highest record of blood pressure, followed by respondents between the age group of 46-60 years and 30-45 years, which shows the proportion of respondents with high blood pressure increases with age. High blood pressure on one occasion may be a sign for hypertension, which is considered to be one of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease. However, follow-up measurements are necessary to make a more founded diagnosis. The estimate of 6% with self-reported high blood pressure is probably an underestimate as most other studies, in which blood pressure has actually been measured have shown a prevalence of 30 – 40% among Nigerians. 

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In order to further explore the exposure of Nigerians to risk factors of cardiovascular disease, the BMI of respondents were determined through information on the height and weight values of respondents; 44% of the respondents provided information on their height and weights. The BMI is calculated by dividing the weight in kilogram by the square of height in meters (kg/m2). A BMI below 18.5 is interpreted as underweight, 18.5 - 24.9 as normal weight, 25.0-29.9 as overweight and 30.0+ as obese. Almost half of respondents (48%) were classified as either overweight(25%) or obese (23%). 37% of the respondents were found to have normal weight while 15%were found to be underweight.
 
The North-East zone (67%) has the highest proportion of respondents with a normal weight, the South-West (56%: 28%+28) and South-East (55%: 35%+20%) zones accounted for the highest total proportion of respondents who are either overweight or obese, while the North-West zone(29%) accounted for the highest proportion of respondents who are underweight.
 
Analysis based on age revealed that the majority of respondents aged 18-21 years (56%) are underweight, while the majority of respondents aged 46-60 years (58%: 28%+30%) and 61 years and above (68%: 49%+19%) are either overweight or obese.


In conclusion, the heart disease poll has revealed that  about half of the adult Nigerian population (52%) are unaware of incidents of heart disease in their locality, leaving 48% aware. Of those aware, the highest level of awareness was expressed by respondents from the North-East zone (65%) and by senior citizens aged 61+ (63%). Findings also revealed that the majority(77%) of Nigerians are not concerned about personally being at risk of having heart disease, and this cuts across gender. Two-third (67%) of the respondents claimed that they have checked/measured their blood pressure in the last 1 year, with an increase of proportion with age. The vast majority (85%) of respondents, irrespective of gender, age or geopolitical zones, stated that their blood pressure was at normal, and 6% reported their blood pressure as high. Respondents aged 61+ (28%) had the highest proportion with high blood pressure. Furthermore, an evaluation of the BMI calculated using the height and weight of respondents revealed that in total, about half of respondents (48%) are either overweight (25%) or obese (23%) thus exposing them to an increased risk of heart disease.
 
Finally, the poll has established that, although many Nigerians are exposed to one or more risk factors of cardiovascular disease, the majority do not think that they are personally at risk of the disease.  Our findings suggest that Nigerians may not fully understand that some lifestyle habits are also risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The increase in cardiovascular diseases in countries that still have a large burden of infectious diseases has been described as the “double burden” of disease that threatens to overwhelm the health services of many resource-poor countries. As Nigeria continues to grapple with its large burden of TB, HIV, Malaria and other communicable diseases, it is important to also focus on the increasing burden of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease.