Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Melodramatic Launching of Clean Cookstoves in the Aso Villa!!! By Dotun Roy

When it has got to the point that someone whom is expected to conduct his or herself with some respect, loses his or her temper in the public place right in the presence of top dignitaries then one should know that, a whole lot is truly wrong with our polity as a nation.

Fakoya 2  Fakoya 3

When a Minister Federal of Republic of Nigeria whom by all standards should be a role model to lots of younger persons goofed and opt for verbal attacks on younger persons; who have determined to tow a different path particularly in safeguarding the interest of the masses and making sure what is generally meant for the public, should be given to them without any form struggle or agitation.

This sort of verbal attacks were directed at Follow the Money Team Lead Hamzat Lawal today at the official launching of Clean Cook Stoves at Aso Villa by no other person than outgoing Minister of Environment, Laurentia Mallam was uncalled for. Well I could use the word “outgoing” because it is only a matter few days, the current Federal Executive Council as whole would become history.

Evidently, I wouldn’t say this story is an impromptu one. However, anyone who has ever come across Follow the Money Team, would know that they will never keep quiet and treat such matter as trivial or lick their wounds and run into hide. Honestly, I personally feel really disappointed at the cold reaction of Madam towards what the Follow the Money is doing. Such defensive reaction deeply speaks volume of what Nigerian masses have had to put up with in the last 7 years of this Administration. “Do you think only you can save this country” that was a statement from our Madam Minister directed to Hamzat of Follow the Money. How sad!  Madam Minister keep forgetting one thing that the change starts with one person and others follow!

I had expected her to embrace and encourage the team and even wish them well but on the contrary she decided reeled out a show of embarrassment instead of providing straight answer to the questions directed to her by the Follow the Team Lead.

At least by now, Follow the money Team must have been known by all concerned Nigerians that they are not just group of noise making young Nigerians. And that they have not only taken it upon themselves to stand for what is right but also to defend and protect the rights of the voiceless and the marginalised through their various Transparency and Accountability projects under Follow the Money since 2012.

With such a rare dedication coming from these young Nigerians, the future of Nigeria as a country, with bad history of corruption, graft, faulty policies in the polity as well as mismanagement of public funds on the part of those that are expected to be the crusaders of good governance for speedy national development is indeed bright.

Nevertheless, Follow the Money will never stop. Follow the Money believe in Nigeria. They will not be cowed in the fight against graft and corruption particularly in public sector and to see transparency and accountability entrenched both in public and private sectors in Nigeria. We believe Nigeria will only be great nation if only we can work together  in stamping out corruption in our society.

Monday, 25 May 2015

A Call for Presidential Assent on VAPPBILL by #Choice4Life Advocates

After a thirteen-year sojourn at the National Assembly, the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Bill was passed by the Senate on 5th May, 2015. It was earlier passed by the House of Representatives on 14th March, 2013.  While the bill awaited legislative action, thousands of Nigerians fell victim to various forms of violence and many lost their lives. Now that the bill has been passed by both chambers of the national assembly, harmonized and transmitted to the president, we call on President Goodluck Jonathan to further pen his name in the history books by assenting to it immediately.
Sexual violence, a crime the VAPP bill seeks to address appears to be on the rise in recent times. Adolescents and youths, particularly young girls are the main victims of this form of violence. Unfortunately, 52% of victims do nothing about it (National Demographic Health Survey 2013) due to minimal support structure on ground. Domestic violence, female genital cutting, electoral violence, and many others have also caused tremendous damages in our national polity. 

Troubled by the sufferings of these victims who hardly ever get justice or support, the#Choice4Life advocates, a group of young Nigerians from diverse ethno-religious and professional backgrounds joined the advocacy for the passage of VAPP bill into law. For the past 13 months that we led the #Choice4Life campaign via social media, television and radio, we observed a high acceptance of the bill by Nigerians.  

We believe that it is a pleasant coincidence that the bill got passed at a time many girls and women who are victims of Boko Haram terror are being rescued from captivity in Sambisa Forest. They are victims of physical, emotional and sexual violence and will benefit greatly from the provisions of the bill when assented to.   

The VAPP bill provides a robust legal framework needed for justice and rehabilitation of the rescued girls. It will also boost the confidence of the citizens in our country and will serve as a legal protection of citizens against all forms of violence regardless of sex, age, culture, tribe or religion. 

We hereby salute the 7th National Assembly for passing this bill into law. We also commend well -meaning Nigerians, organizations and development partners who have championed the cause of this bill for the past 13 years. 

By signing this historic bill, Mr President would have written his name in gold as one who gave life to a law that will protect millions of Nigerians particularly the women whom he cares so much about. #PGEJSignVAPPbill to save lives! God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Community Diary Episode 2: OtodoGbame


Community Diary Episode 1: Sagbo Kodji Island

Community Diary is a weekly program that focuses on issues and happenings about underreported communities and groups, in and around Lagos.

This edition is about Sagbo Kodji Island, a riverine community that has existed for 100 years without been connected to any form of power supply. But something happened recently.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Loretta Lynch: The woman 'to restore faith in US justice'

Loretta Lynch is the first black woman to hold the post of US attorney general

On 23 April, after one of the longest confirmation processes in the history of the US, the Senate finally approved Loretta Lynch, President Barack Obama's nominee for attorney general, the nation's highest law officer.

Two days later the city of Baltimore, in Maryland, erupted in rioting over the death of a young black man in police custody there. Madam attorney general, welcome to the job.

Freddie Gray died after suffering unexplained injuries and falling into a coma; six police officers have now been charged in connection with his death.

It follows a string of similar cases - in Ferguson, Missouri, for example, where police shot dead an unarmed black teenager in August last year, or, more recently, in South Carolina, where a white officer shot another unarmed black man five times as he was running away.

Each time something like this happens, it raises the same question with ever increasing urgency: can the law offer justice to black Americans?

A few days into the job, Loretta Lynch met Freddie Gray's family and community activists in Baltimore

Force for change

Ms Lynch seems peculiarly well-placed to provide the answer.

She was born in North Carolina in 1959, so into a world where law and justice were most certainly not the same thing.

In the early 1960s, life in the American South was still dominated by the so-called "Jim Crow" laws - legislation introduced after the American Civil War to segregate white people and black people.

Despite that, her father, the Reverend Lorenzo Lynch, a Protestant pastor like his father before him, believed the law could be a force for change. And when the future attorney general was a very young girl, he used to take her down to the local law courts.

"When I was growing up we were taught [to] stay away from the courthouse," he told me. "Don't be caught at the courthouse. [But] I thought it was a positive institution, and I wanted her to have a different view of it."

The Jim Crow laws finally went in the mid-1960s, but casual racism remained.

'Jim Crow' laws

The "Jim Crow" laws were used to segregate white people and black people in parts of the United States until the 1960s and covered all aspects of life including:

separate public ablution facilities for white people and black people in Alabama, and segregated public transportwhite people and black people were not allowed to marry each other in Wyomingwhite children and black children were not allowed to be taught together in Floridain Georgia, black people could not be buried alongside white people.

Ms Lynch's mother, Lorine, remembers that her daughter's teachers had trouble accepting how clever she was.

When she was in the second grade - so seven or eight years old - she had to retake a class test because she did so well the first time round.

"[The teachers] felt it was not accurate because she was African-American and all the white students scored lower," Mrs Lynch told me.

Her score was even higher second time round.

No 'play clothes'

None of this seems to have blunted her aspirations. Ms Lynch pursued a childhood dream of going to Harvard - America's oldest institution of higher education - where she completed a first degree in English literature before switching to law.

A student radical she was not. Karen Freeman-Wilson, now a mayor in Indiana, was a member of the same sorority (a student club for women) and remembers how smartly turned-out she always was.

"In college you tend to wear jeans, you tend to wear khakis, you tend to dress down," she says, "but I can't remember an occasion that Loretta dressed down. I used to tease her... 'Do you ever have any play clothes?'"

President Obama said the US would be "better off" with Ms Lynch as attorney general

The sharply dressed lawyer of the future was already in the making.

'The triplets'

The big New York law firms were still very male and very white when she joined Cahill Gordon and Reindel in the mid-1980s.

Two other black American women were part of her cohort, and the three liked to refer to themselves as "the triplets".

One of them, Alysa Christmas Rollock, who is now a vice-president at Purdue University in Indiana, told me they used the nickname because the firm's receptionists, who knew the 250 male partners and associates by name, seemed to be "incapable of identifying us from each other, so we became the non-identical triplets".

The slight must have been - to put it at its mildest - irritating, but there seems no evidence Ms Lynch resented the racism she faced. Yet, she lacked any trace of bitterness.

We can restore trust and faith both in our laws and in those of us who enforce them.

Loretta Lynch, US Attorney General

Her first really high-profile case - in 1999, not long after the then President, Bill Clinton, appointed her the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York - raised just the issues that are back in the spotlight as she takes on her new job.

Abner Louima, a Haitian, had been arrested after an altercation outside a nightclub and accused of hitting a police officer.

The police later admitted the charge was false, but Mr Louima was brutally beaten.

Calm under pressure

During the trial it emerged one of the police officers involved was in a long-term relationship with a black American woman, and it was put to the court he was therefore unlikely to have violated the rights of a black man.

Alan Vinegrad, who worked with Ms Lynch on the case, remembers the way she tackled this sensitive issue head on, accusing the officer concerned of "hiding behind the colour of his girlfriend's skin".

It was high-stakes stuff - the trial team had to be escorted out of the courtroom by US marshals that day - but it was done in a "calm and measured way".

Ms Lynch's ability to stay calm stood her in good stead when she faced rough questioning during her confirmation hearings.

"Many of us looked at the treatment she received… [and] we didn't feel good about it, we did not feel there was a sense of fairness," her old friend, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, said.

"But her reaction was, 'That's OK, let's just keep our heads and eyes on the prize.' That's who she really is."

She is also - and everyone seems to agree on this - a formidably good lawyer, a "consummate professional" in the judgement of one of those who worked with her.

She will need all of those qualities if she is to restore faith in US justice.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

When Humans Declared War on Fish By PAUL GREENBERG and BORIS WORM

On Friday May 8 we humans observed V-E Day, the end to one part of a global catastrophe that cost the planet at least 60 million lives. But if we were fish, we would have marked the day differently — as the beginning of a campaign of violence against our taxonomic classes, one that has resulted in trillions of casualties.

Oddly, the war itself was a great reprieve for many marine species. Just as Axis and Allied submarines and mines made the transportation of war matériel a highly perilous endeavor, they similarly interfered with fishing. The ability to catch staple seafoods, like cod, declined markedly. Freed from human pursuit, overexploited species multiplied in abundance.

But World War II also brought a leap in human ingenuity, power and technical ability that led to an unprecedented assault on our oceans. Not only did ships themselves become larger, faster and more numerous, but the war-derived technologies they carried exponentially increased their fishing power.

Take sonar. Before the 1930s, electronic echolocation was a barely functioning concept. It allowed operators to trace the vague contours of the seafloor topography and crudely track the pathway of a large moving object. But the war pushed forward dramatic advances in sonar technology; by its end, sophisticated devices, developed for hunting submarines, had grown infinitely more precise, and could now be repurposed to hunt fish.

Schools of fish could soon be pinpointed to within a few yards, and clearly differentiated from the sea’s bottom. Coupled with high-powered diesel engines that had been developed during the global conflict, the modern fishing vessel became a kind of war machine with a completely new arsenal: lightweight polymer-based nets, monofilament long lines that could extend for miles and onboard freezers capable of storing a day’s catch for months at a time.

Even human resources developed during the war were later redirected toward fishing: Japanese fighter pilots adept at spotting subsurface Allied submarines were later retrained to look for whales. Likewise, more than a few former Allied pilots found postwar employment hunting bluefin tuna and Atlantic menhaden.

In some ways, the “war machine” wasn’t a metaphor. Across South Asia, leftover explosives were “recycled” for “bomb fishing,” an obscenely destructive way of killing coastal fish, which turned many coral reefs into rubble fields. And the technological overkill continued into the Cold War era: Satellite imagery and GPS technology originally intended to track the movements of the Soviet nuclear arsenal eventually allowed well-populated fish habitats to be clearly identified from space.

Because the war incentivized the creation of ships with much longer oceangoing ranges, it also meant that fishing was transformed from a local endeavor into a global one. “Industrial fishing,” maybe the first globalized economic enterprise, meant the wholesale, permanent occupation of marine ecosystems, instead of the local raids practiced by previous generations.

In addition, emerging economies of scale meant that it wasn’t just the target fish that suffered. With the invention of postwar super trawlers that scooped up everything in their path, a sort of scorched-earth approach to fishing became commonplace.

Taken collectively, the rise of postwar fishing technology meant that the global reported catch rose from some 15 million metric tons at war’s end to 85 million metric tons today — the equivalent, in weight, of the entire human population at the turn of the 20th century, removed from the sea each and every year.

Only the turn of the third millennium saw a new kind of reprieve, this time not caused by human adversity, but by the insight that we need to make peace with other species as well. Growing signs of exhaustion and failure in global fisheries made humans reconsider the totality of their assault.

Marine protected areas, an environmental version of a demilitarized zone, started to spring up, and now cover some 3.5 percent of the ocean. Countries formerly at war began to work together to hammer out new deals for fish, exemplified by both the recent revision of the Common Fisheries Policy in Europe and new efforts underway at the United Nations to better regulate fishing on the high seas, the 60 percent of the oceans outside national control.

Collateral damage to sharks, turtles, whales and sea birds is increasingly becoming unacceptable. And some of those same technologies once used to kill fish with precision are now being used to save them: War-inspired satellite technology is being deployed to identify and pursue rogue vessels fishing illegally.

But in remembering the end of World War II and the deliberate steps that led to a lasting peace, we might contemplate a broader Marshall Plan, which would further restrain our destructive tendencies and technological powers elsewhere, not just in fishing the oceans, but in mining, drilling and otherwise exploiting them.

To be sure, the postwar assault on fish mostly sprang from an honorable intention to feed a growing human population that boomed in a prosperous postwar world. But as in war, everybody loses when there is nothing left to fight for. Only when we fully embrace that simple fact, and act accordingly, will our celebrations resonate among what the author Henry Beston called those “other nations caught with ourselves in the net of life and time.”

Fighting The Battle Against The Rise of Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is by far one of the deadliest form of communicable diseases known to Man. In 2014, it Was estimated that 60,000 deaths have occured in Nigeria and more are likely to occur if serious preventable measures are not taken. Adekoya Busayo  writes about concerned stakeholders decidicated in treating Tuberculosis victims with the aim of reducing the rising scourge.

Mustapha Zainab, 28, a housewife was rushed to the General hospital in Kaduna by relatives. She had been ill for some weeks without any sign of improvement. She managed to explain some of the symptoms she has to the doctor which were persistent heavy coughs, chest pain and night sweats.  

The x-ray undeniably pointed to the source of her problems, she was diagnosed with tuberculosis — a deadly lung infection transmitted through the air.

This was not the first time Zainab had to deal with such a threatening diagnosis. Two years ago, she and her late husband both tested positive to HIV. Against the doctor’s advice, he refused any form of drugs and treatments that could guide against any further infectious diseases. Shortly after, he was diagnosed of tuberculosis that later led to his demise.

According to the World Health Organisation (W.H.O), Tuberculosis (TB) is second only to HIV/AIDS as the greatest killer worldwide due to a single infectious agent. In 2013, 9 million people fell ill with TB and 1.5 million died from the disease. Over 95% of TB deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, and it is among the top 5 causes of death for women aged 15 to 44.

Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs. Tuberculosis and HIV form a deadly combination, claiming 600,000 lives a year in Nigeria, despite the fact that tuberculosis can both be prevented and treated.

For a long time, Zainab decided to keep her HIV status to herself for fear of being stigmatized. One of the hardest things for HIV and tuberculosis patients to deal with is the loneliness and isolation that this social stigma brings which is why most victims present themselves in late stages.

“I couldn’t tell anyone the cause of my husband’s death. Everyone thinks he died of malaria and typhoid” says Zainab as she narrates her ordeal.  “ When we were both diagnosed of HIV, he refused to register for free treatments but later I went back to try and register for the free drugs but was told that there was shortage of supply of HIV treatment drugs and it will take awhile before they get. After going to the hospital twice for the drugs and none was yet available, I left the hospital disappointed and I never returned until now,” she said amidst tears.

Women play a central role in maintaining and improving the health of their children and families. Mothers are known to be caregivers, and when they become affected by disease, their illness leads to time off work, loss of income, and even death.

Many children have been orphaned because of tuberculosis and as a result of this deadly infectious disease, families fall into a vicious downward spiral that may be carried forward to the next generation, pushing people deeper into disease and poverty.
“I cannot afford the treatment of tuberculosis and I don’t want to die now and leave my children orphaned. What will become of them if I die like their father? Who will cater for them and bring them up properly?” asked Zaniab in despair.

Recently, the National TB and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) has said that over 600,000 new cases of tuberculosis have occurred in Nigeria, according to the survey conducted in 2014, with 91,354 cases placed on treatment.

National Coordinator, National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme, Dr. Gabriel Akang who made this statement during the 2015 World TB Day with the theme ‘Nigeria Unites Against Tuberculosis, in Abuja, said the World Health Organisation (WHO) ranked Nigeria to be 3rd among the 22 highest prevalence of TB burden countries in the world, adding that DOTS services are currently provided in about 6000 health facilities in the country and diagnosis in 1,515 microscopy laboratories.

In curbing these growing numbers of tuberculosis victims in Nigeria, organisations such as the Star Deepwater Petroleum Nigeria Limited, a Chevron Company with its Agbami Co-venturers recently donated fully equipped Chest Clinics and Science Laboratory complex to the Rimi General Hospital, Katsina State,  Government Science College, Izom, Niger State, SMOH General Hospital, Kafanchan, Kaduna State and TB and Leprosy Referral Centre Tuberculosis and Infectious Disease Hospital, Chanchagi, Minna, Niger State.
Speaking at Protea Hotel, Asokoro, Abuja,  During the handover ceremonies, the Director, Deepwater & Production Sharing Contracts, Mr. Jeffrey Ewing, who was represented by Senator Daniel Olugbenga Aluko, Director, Government Affairs of Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) said the Chest Clinic comes fully equipped with a standard X-Ray Machine, male and female wards, treatment rooms, laboratories and Gene Xpert machine while the Science laboratory complex is made of laboratories for physics, biology and chemistry and fully equipped with modern apparatus and regents to ensure the complex is conducive for teaching and learning.

He expressed gratitude to the management of Rimi General Hospital and the Project Manager for their efforts in making the building and equipping of the Chest Clinic a reality.

He said “From December 2004 when the Agbami Project contract was awarded, Star Deepwater Petroleum Limited with its Co-ventures in the Agbami Field has consistently made it a point of duty to enhance the development of Nigerian capacities and capabilities in the oil and gas industry for maximum positive impact on Nigeria’s economy. These deliberate efforts have resulted in employment generation, higher local contractors’ participation in the design and fabrication of facilities for the project and training.”

“The Agbami Field is located approximately 70 miles (113 Kilometers) offshore Nigeria. However, in line with the Deep Offshore Community Affairs Group (DOCAG) engagement principles, we view the entire country as the Agbami Community. Consequently, the intervention by the group in the areas of education and health is distributed throughout the Nigeria and is adding value to Nigerians,” he said.

In addition to the Chest Clinics, he said “We have implemented awareness programmes on HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases in several communities across the six geo-political zones in the country. Medications were also made available to the people of such communities.”

Katsina State Commissioner for Health, Mannir Ibrahim Talba who was represented by Dr. Muhamed Qabashiru, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Katsina State, said that the Chest Clinic is one of the most needed projects in the state.
He said, “The centre will enable the state handle patients who hitherto were referred to TB clinics far from Katsina State for treatment – especially those who have developed resistant to regular TB medications. We can now efficiently and adequately treat them. I want to assure that the centre will be a good example; it is going to be a center of excellence not only in the state but the world in general.