My Journey To “Award of Great Achievement”

By Odimegwu Onwumere

My people in Oyigbo, Rivers State, celebrated my journalism achievements. The date was May 6 2018. The venue was D’ Truth Lounge, Union Street.

The organizers of the event had taken me uninformed. It was a surprise to me. I was barely notified of the ceremonial five or thereabouts hours to the kick-off.

Mr. Casmir Ogaraku and Lady Geraldine Chukwu deemed it wise that they put up the event in service of my Pan African Re/insurance Award 2018, which I received in Namibia on April 9, 2018.

Ogaraku and Chukwu’s insight was that in a safe and sane environment, the government ought to have celebrated me, given that I won the overall of the awards across Africa, organized by Continental Reinsurance Plc. But since the government was yet to do so, they, my beloved ones had to celebrate me.

Anyways, according to a press release by Continental Re within the period of the awards titled “Winners of 2018 Pan African Re/Insurance Journalism Awards Announced”, it read, “Odimegwu Onwuwere, a journalist with Nigeria’s Africa Prime News has bagged the Pan African Journalist of the Year Award for the 2018 Pan African Re/Insurance Journalism Awards sponsored by Continental Reinsurance
.
“His winning article titled “Africa emerging new frontier in the reinsurance markets” investigates how foreign insurers that once rebuked Africa due to economic instability are now swarming for businesses on the continent because the sector is becoming alluring and dynamic due to unswerving GDP growth…”

Being the third edition of the journalism awards, “It received 61 entrants from 15 English and French speaking countries including: Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ghana, Namibia, Mauritius and Zambia for Anglophones; Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Senegal, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo and Togo for Francophones,” stated the release.

Conversely, at the celebration in Oyigbo, D’ Truth Lounge, Air Cas Service LTD, and Oya Industries LTD, gave me “Award of Great Achievement”. It is an honour that a prophet is recognized at home.

Before this time, friends and well-wishers had celebrated with me as the 2018 Pan African Re/insurance Award winner. Many media platforms like the revered ThisDay Newspapers gave my winning a wide coverage. The news was also awash online. Friends and well-wishers and my family members on social media escalated the news.

My experience in Swakopmund, (the place for the awards) this coastal city in Namibia, west of the capital, Windhoek, was a relish. Haboured in one of the best hotels in the country known as Strand, the sandy beaches around the hotel made my nearly one week stay in the city fascinating.

I was made to understand that Swakopmund faces the Atlantic Ocean. According to history, it was “Established by German colonialists in 1892, the city’s colonial landmarks include the Swakopmund Lighthouse and the Mole, an old sea wall. Next to the lighthouse, the Swakopmund Museum documents Namibian history. Inland, the elegant Swakopmund Railway Station, now a hotel, also dates to the colonial era.”

Desert takes a vast land of the city. There were calls for duty among the authorities. Hardly were there potholes on the roads. Their vehicles are not like Nigerians. Their vehicles are majorly German.

Namibia is about two hours from South Africa, and Nigeria to South Africa is about six hours. There was no direct flight from Nigeria to Namibia, occasioned by lack of Nigerian Carrier.

It was SA Express aircraft. And I took off from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), located in Lagos State. History says, “MMIA is the major airport serving the entire state. The airport was initially built during World War II and is named after Murtala Muhammed, the 4th military ruler of Nigeria.”

At this airport, those that checked my papers were beggarly. Officials that were supposed to mind their various posts begged. “Anything for me?” they begged.

This habit was not the same in South Africa where I first landed to connect another aircraft to Namibia after hours. In Namibia and South Africa, no officials at the immigration units begged for money. They concentrated on their work.

While the MMIA was overcrowded by officials and the environment oozed with putrefying smell, O. R. Tambo International Airport, South Africa, was well organized. History says, “It is a major international airport in Kempton Park, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, South Africa, near the city of Johannesburg and, to a lesser extent, the executive capital Pretoria.” The same was applicable to the airport in Swakopmund.

Many experiences were gathered on my journey To “Award of Great Achievement.” I can’t thank Coss Williams enough for his advise at the earlier stage of my career. My parents and family have always been around.

I thank Elsie, Cess, Eniola of Continental Re, and Nike of The Punch Newspapers, Nigeria, who guided the way I travelled to Namibia. I thank my friends on social media who amplified my triumph. Ogaraku and Chukwu and Chukwudi Nlewem are not left behind. I thank all of you.

-Odimegwu Onwumere is a Media Consultant who has won many journalism awards; he is based in Rivers State, and can be reached via: apoet_25@yahoo.com

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My Arrogant Classmate

By Odimegwu Onwumere

I saw Onyekachi on May 13 2018, after eight years or thereabouts. The place was along Shell Location Road, Oyigbo, Rivers State.

{Odimegwu Onwumere winner Pan African Reinsurance Journalism Awards 2018}

Onyi, as he was fondly called, was my classmate in the secondary school. He was driving an expensive car, although a rickety one. I was riding my motorcycle.

Crossing a road bump, he was looking at me, but I was quick to recognise him and shouted, “Onyi!”, then veered the roadside in excitement and packed.

He packed his ‘expensive car’ just on the road, came down, with his shoulders very up, twisting himself like the peacock’s. I sensed his arrogance and hated him immediately with passion.

His style, for me, was odoriferous. I knew he was no body before the eight years he disappeared from Oyigbo. He was nobody even in our school days and is no body to me today, as far as I’m involved.

With his shoulders very high and with an aura downsizing me, I concluded that this guy was EMPTY. I had known that the greatest drum makes the greatest noise. I saw a very fat Onyi but an EMPTY person.

I bought in his downsizing of me and made him feel above life, above board.

Onyi asked from my family to some other things, just as a teacher would ask his pupil. I allowed him feel important while I remained the unimportant person, as his body language suggested the latter.

He mentioned a crème de la crème party in the town he was attending before we met. I allowed him express his foolery self.

Besides, he was not my mate, even though we were classmates. I’m about two or thereabouts years his elder. That apart. I went to pick my motorcycle from where I packed it, after the unpleasant pleasantries.

When I have done this, I watched Onyi twisting himself back to enter his ‘expensive car’ the same way he came down from it.

We greeted again and zoomed off. But while I was riding, I was looking for a statement to qualify Onyi. Luckily, I found solace in one of the quotes by John Calvin Maxwell, an American author, speaker, and pastor with many books, primarily focusing on leadership, to his credit.

John Calvin Maxwell says, “There are two kinds of pride, both good and bad. ‘Good pride’ represents our dignity and self-respect. ‘Bad pride’ is the deadly sin of superiority that reeks of conceit and arrogance.”

Sadly, Onyi had ‘Bad pride’!

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet, Writer and Media Consultant based in Rivers State. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

Africa Thinking Digital To Revolutionise Her Reinsurance Sector

With the proliferation of mobile phones, users of social media in Africa, experts say that the reinsurance sector on the continent is still underutilising technology. Odimegwu Onwumere unearths that reinsurers in Africa are however thinking what the sector might be like in 30 years from now and not what they have in hand; they are thinking digital reinsurance for the future; they are thinking that the social media has impacted the ways of life of their potential target market so they must rise to bridge the digital divide between them and their potential target market in order to stay relevant; they are thinking of a continent where buying insurance will no longer be associated with questions but the big data will provide enthusiastic and accurate predictors of risk

 

{2018 Africa Insurance Summit}

It was a sadistic voice approaching from Kigali, Rwanda. The vicious voice was heard at the 42nd annual general meeting for the Federation of African National Insurance Companies (FANAF) held on February 12 2018. The ferocious voice harangued that re/insurers in Africa were not utilising the Information Communication Technology (ICT), upon that examination has it that approximately 80.8% of Africans own a mobile phone today. The 80.8% is contained in a 2016 data of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations agency for information and communication technologies. Those who know better said that this was 10% skip from 71% in 2014. Also, Kenyan Insurance Industry Strategy Report arranged by Transector International, September 2017, said that Kenyan mobile saturation was at 88%; Internet penetration was at 90%. Passages from the report buttressed that the country had towering rendezvous on social media of 6 million Facebook accounts; 2 million dynamic users on twitter; 10 million Whatsapp vigorous users; 3 million Instagram and 1.5 million on LinkedIn. When some analysts believed that there were 66 per cent population of Africans without bank accounts, no email address (causing difficulties for reinsurers to control their policyholders), there were over 32 million mobile money subscribers in Kenya. It was noted that the number was on the increase, not only in Kenya, but across Africa.

On the other hand, observers did not mince words in clamouring that Africa sways as the fastest-growing mobile phone market in the world and by 2020, this emerging continent in the reinsurance markets is expected to have 725 million smartphone users, as according to a 2016 report by a trade body representing the welfare of mobile operators worldwide: Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA). According to the GSMA, mobile services gave in 6.7% of the continent’s GDP in 2015 and by 2022, 80% of Africans on the continent will be connected to 5G internet networks.

A 2014 World Bank Group account had opined that digitisation of economies donates to extensive economic growth, individual monetary authorisation, and financial enclosure. Nonetheless, the voice from Kigali was full of fears that apart from the proliferation of mobile phones, reinsurers in Africa were not utilising breakthrough technologies that aid easy services in the re/insurance business in the areas of measuring, controlling, and pricing risk, connecting with customers, trimming down cost, increasing competence, and swelling insurability. They were not utilising Cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), advanced analytics, telematics, the global positioning system (GPS), mobile phones, digital platforms, drones, block chain, smart contracts, and artificial intelligence (AI). These technologies are believed to help in the creation of new products, services and business models.

Still In The Old Way

The supposed underutilisation of technologies on the continent’s reinsurance hurts stakeholders. For the manager life business department at Kenya Re, Peter O Angweny, at the event “The industry is still stuck in the old ways of doing business, which has slowed service delivery.”

The African Union chairman, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda grimaced that glaring obstructions in the sector on the continent reached $75 billion few years ago in the value of contracts, indicating a rough business.

But the Allianz SE CEO Oliver Bäte while at the 44th annual Insurance Conference in Sun City, South Africa, last year believed that in today’s fast changing world, “It’s critical to innovate quickly and to change course rapidly if necessary.

“The insurance industry, like other customer service industries, is transforming because of the all-encompassing impact of digitalisation on our lives.”

Recuperating Economies

In 2016, the continent was not shut down when Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Gambia, the Republic of Congo and Uganda launched infertile entrée to social media for their citizens.

This was applicable in Ethiopia, Madagascar and Tanzania, where censorship legislation was fiercely introduced. While this happened, President Kagame feared that Africa had obstructions in the value of contracts to the tendency of $75 billion due to poor utilisation of technology.

But Bäte surmised in a different fora, saying, “While traditional markets, such as Europe, are struggling with their digital transformation process, Africa is digital by nature. Mobile is the fastest growing sector and innovation enabler on the continent with an expected (1.2 billion African subscribers by 2018?)”

Still, Kagame was counting loss in the insurance sector in Africa, whilst officials from German’s Reinsurance Company, Munich Re, expressed ecstasy that the global premium volume reached $5 trillion in 2016 and reinsurers scheme the attraction to resolve at $5.6 trillion in 2018.

 

This is being determined by recuperating economies in a number of proliferating emerging markets using technology.

A Drop In The Ocean

Conversely, investigations revealed that the worth of reinsurance industry in Africa is only $6.8 billion. To opinion leaders on the field, “It is just a drop in the ocean. How can this be turned around?”

Notwithstanding, lack of innovative solutions, limited financial capability and insurance wakefulness, proper products for different market segments, easy methods and under-pricing limit growth of profits are factors fingered to be hindering the reinsurance sector on the continent.

Hence, African reinsurers are summoned to hug digital technology. It is believed that this will drive growth in the industry.

Changing From Analogue To Digital

Preparatory to the Organisation of Eastern and Southern Africa Insurers (OESAI) and Insurance Information Bureau (IIB), dubbed Africa Insurance Summit 2018, before the next Africa Insurance Summit in 2019 to be hosted in Accra, Ghana, issues on capacity and resources to instigate the flight towards a double-digit insurance penetration, how the African market will utilise technological modernism to considerably increase insurance penetration, are the key issues raising eyebrows.

Bäte sued for digitalisation in a different presentation, saying, “Digitalisation allows us to gain considerably better insights into our individual and institutional customers and thereby to better serve their needs.”

With this, those who know better are saying that the thinking of reinsurers and insurers who are mostly regarded as conservatives is drastically changing for progressiveness all over the world and the sector in Africa is not exempted.

Critical Success Or Failure

The Chairman, Board of Directors, Law Union and Rock Plc, Remi Babalola, a former Minister of State for Finance, while speaking on the theme “Millennials: Digital Transformation & The Nigerian Insurance Industry” at the 2017 Quarterly Breakfast Meeting of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN), in Lagos, said the millennials have either negative or positive impact on the insurance industry.

Hear him, “The Millennials are either a critical success or failure factor for the insurance industry both locally and globally, depending on how proactive the sector is in harnessing its positive characteristics.

“Proactive adaptation of their lifestyle or behaviour to innovate products by insurers to match their lifestyle needs will significantly change the landscape of the insurance industry.”

The Big Data

Reinsurers in Africa are however thinking of a continent where buying insurance will no longer be associated with questions but the big data will provide enthusiastic and accurate predictors of risk. For example, an authority in the sector in America known as Aviva, where one Andrew Brem is the chief digital officer, the company prices its car insurance using data to find the numerical connection between the purchase of life insurance policies and safer driving, making life insurance policyholders obtain lower quotes unlike in the traditional way where a lot of questions are involved ranging from the type of the car, the location and the driving history.

According to Babalola, “If your brand doesn’t show up in online search, Millennials are not likely to take you seriously. Information available shows that the Millennials have the capacity, and are in fact influencing purchasing decisions as well as how companies conduct business. Insurers must therefore be ready to tailor their marketing strategies to align with the digital natives in order to achieve improved performance.

“We need to be where the customer is, and be part of the conversation where they interact, exchange opinions, and levy complaints. Insurance companies would need to allocate resources to study millennials’ habits and employ effective marketing strategies to sell multiple strands of insurance. Since they engage in a sharing economy, we may need to think of how to insure space and time.”

Reinsurance In Africa In 30 Years

On the continent, reinsurers are thinking what the sector might be like in 30 years from now and not what they have in hand. They are thinking digital reinsurance for the future.

For instance, some reinsurance companies in climes like Hoxton Square in east London are expending millions into innovation and research and building what they call “digital garage” and a company like the Continental Re in Africa is on top of its voice telling practitioners on the continent that retailing is where the re/insurance business is, not in corporate.

What this means is that Africa needs “insurtech” startups in order to challenge the big players in the Americas and Europe, where according to CB Insight, $1.7bn went into insurance startups in 2016, across 173 deals.

The President, CIIN, Funmi Babington-Ashaye, said, “The emerging generation of workforce and consumers are now tech-savvy, and require online real time information on products and their offerings.

“Put simply, the social media has impacted the ways of life of our potential target market, so we must therefore mount to bridge this digital divide between us and our potential target market in order to stay relevant.”

Using Technology For Penetration

With a doctorate in statistics from the University of Manchester in the UK, a Master of Science degree in statistics from Imperial College, London, and a Bachelor of Science degree in statistics and operational research from the University of Manchester, the managing director of Continental Re, Femi Oyetunji was of the philosophy in January this year that while the global reinsurance companies are expected to be coming into the African market, there will be tremendous competition.

But for Bäte, “Insurance companies have much to offer to the African economy. Therefore, digitalisation allows us to gain considerably better insights into our individual and institutional customers and thereby to better serve their needs.

“We believe deeply in Africa’s huge long-term growth potential and we will leverage our global footprint and extensive expertise to strengthen our market position and to attract African talent.”

Oyetunji who is also a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries, UK, and has attended several management development programmes locally and overseas, expressed dismay that the sector on the continent has not spent profoundly in “brick and mortar meaning we are best placed to leapfrog in technology.” Oyetunji showed apprehension that in the heralded competition that will challenge Africa, the continent can do more if it adopts technology to help the reinsurance on the continent drive penetration.

Why Reinsurers In Africa Need Technology

“For example, by using the mobile phone to sell insurance products we can reach more people,” Oyetunji said. “To some extent African players lack the technical capacity, which is a challenge companies must address. The shortage of skills can be addressed but we are not doing enough.

“In terms of financial capacity, it is hard to build a strong balance sheet when rating is used against us. This is why 60 to 70 per cent of premiums in Africa are expatriated abroad. It thus becomes hard to build a strong balance sheet when everything is going out.”

Perhaps, this was the reason the Continental Re has chosen to center on modification of technology for the 2018 annual CEOs Summit. “This year the focus is on technology because virtually everything these days is governed by technology. Insurance is about information and data and for the industry to fully optimise, it needs technology,” Oyetunji added.

“The challenge is how to turn this potential around. We are pushing for two things – first creating awareness through collaborations, and secondly getting the regulators to understand how the industry can be stimulated to grow. We must aim at doing at least 10 per cent of the global business in 10 years.”

Embracing Insurtech

Besides, from Allianz and Munich Re in Europe to Manulife in Canada and XL Catlin in Bermuda, they are investing heavily into ICT and digital developments, therefore making their African counterparts to be developing hyper-thoughts.

Well, Allianz is aiming to transform into what it characterised by a truly customer-centric, ‘digital by default’ company, “the Group established a Single Digital Agenda which plans to spend over $800 million annually on revamping the 127-year-old business. Through the Single Digital Agenda, Allianz will conduct changes through initiatives built on five pillars.”

In-any-case, the reinsurance markets in Africa will be growing over the years in the area of investing and applying technology in business to harness big data analytics in order to foster productivity. Already in the Americas, a mobile phone is used to signal or other sensors spot that someone is about to trade on a road path where many had been injured or died (for example, on a snow). When this is detected, the insurer warns the person on the dangerous path he or she is taking. In the event where the person does not listen, the insurer would advise the person to as a matter of urgency increase the premium.

Fear For Cybercrimes

Africa has nothing to fear about cybercrimes in the insurance sector no matter that a country like “Kenya lost $171 million – 0.28 per cent of GDP – to cybercrime in 2016, higher than the continent’s average of 0.07 of GDP,” as according to the 2017 Delloite Telecoms Media and Tech Trends report.

The source went further to highlight that upon the loss, “In April 2017, Kenya approved the Computer Cybercrime Bill, 2016, to handle 3,000 cybercrime cases reported every month. The Bill criminalises cyber offences such as illegal access to computerised systems, child pornography and computer related fraud, attracting fines of up to $200,000.”

{The 42nd Annual General Assembly of the Federation of African National Insurance Companies (FANAF)}

This anti-cybercrimes policies are cutting across countries in Africa and insurance firms are not sleeping on their oars and allow their money stolen, but are mounting policies to guard companies from fatalities consequential from cyber assault. For example, insurance broker Aon Kenya initiated the Cyber Enterprise Solution – a property/casualty and internet of things insurance policy – to safeguard businesses from losses triggered by cybercrime.

In a nutshell, insurtech enthusiasts who would price risk accurately in the absence of harassing the buyer with obsolete questionnaires are advised in Africa. It is believed that technology would make the biggest difference in the reinsurance markets on the continent in say, 10 years to come. That time, what the continent’s reinsurers would choose to cover, how to cover it, would change. A case in study is that many people are being introduced to buying insurance online unlike few years back when they did that through a broker.

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet, Writer and Media Consultant based in Rivers State, Nigeria. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

Nigerian Journalist Odimegwu Onwumere Wins Pan African Journalist Of The Year Award

Odimegwu Onwuwere, a journalist with AFRICA PRIME NEWS has bagged the Pan African Journalist of the Year Award for the 2018 Pan African Re/Insurance Journalism Awards sponsored by Continental Reinsurance. He is based in Port Harcourt, south-south Nigeria.

{Odimegwu Onwumere making a speach at the awards ceremony}

A statement by Ceciliah KimuyuSenior Account Manager at Continental Reinsurance PLC, said there were three categories of the awards but Onwumere emerged the overall winner.

Onwumere’s winning article titled, Africa emerging new frontier in the reinsurance markets investigates how foreign insurers that once rebuked Africa due to economic instability are now swarming for businesses on the continent because the sector is becoming alluring and dynamic due to unswerving GDP growth.

A Business and Data Journalist with Standard Group Kenya, Otiato Guguyu won the Best Re/Insurance Industry Feature Article for his story, Business of protecting wealth from drought that talks about how an insurance scheme that was introduced in the dry regions of Kenya is cushioning farmers from losses; while Adenike Popoola, Chief Correspondent of Nigeria’s The Punch newspaper emerged the winner for Best Re/Insurance Industry Analysis and Commentary for her article, Foreigners taking over Nigerian insurance industrywhich discusses how the recapitalisation trend is transforming the insurance industry and its expectations in the future.

Also Gareth Stokes, a seasoned financial journalist working with Commercial Risk Africa (CRA) in South Africa won a special award in recognition of his exemplary contribution to Re/ Insurance journalism and was recommended to become a judge in future editions. Gareth emerged the Pan African Journalist of the Year in 2017 awards.

{Odimegwu Onwumere in a group picture with other recipients and two of the judges}

The winners were announced at a Gala dinner held during Continental Reinsurance’s CEO Summit held on April 9th 2018 in Swakopmund, Namibia.

Speaking at the award ceremony, Dr. Femi Oyetunji, Continental Reinsurance’s Group Managing Director noted, “The Pan-African Re/Insurance Journalism Awards are an extension of our continued commitment to advance excellence in the sector. I am glad this year’s entries not only improved in quality, but they also came from a wider range of countries, and with more diverse insurance topics being featured by journalists. We will be including two new categories in next year’s Awards – for broadcast and online entries, and I would like to encourage TV, radio and online journalists to participate.”

According to the statement,  winners will win a combination of financial and practical training prizes to include… The overall winner will also win a fully-paid trip to attend CRA’s training in London, UK including a one-week internship.

The third edition of the journalism awards received 61 entrants from 15 English and French speaking countries including: Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ghana, Namibia, Mauritius and Zambia for Anglophones; Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Senegal, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo and Togo for Francophones.

The entries were assessed and evaluated by an independent panel of judges, which comprised of 5 insurance and business media experts: Nadia Mensah Acogny, Journalist, Forbes Afrique; Tony van Niekerk, Editor, Cover Publications; Afif Ben Yedder, Founder, IC Publications; Michael Wilson, Business & Finance Journalist and Kenneth Igbomor, Market News Editor (West Africa), CNBC Africa.

{Odimegwu Onwumere receiving the award from the Director-CEO of Continental Reinsurance PLC Dr Femi Oyetunji}

I have had the honour of being a judge for two consecutive years, and I would like to note that the quality of entries has significantly improved. There were also more contenders for the top scores than there were last year, which is encouraging progress,’’ noted Nadia Mensah Acogny, Chairperson of the 2018 Judging Panel.

Commenting on the French entries, Ms. Nadia said, “There are many excellent francophone journalists on the continent, who should rise and compete with their fellow business journalists by participating in these awards. I would like to encourage French writers to submit their entries for the 2019 awards.”

{Odimegwu Onwumere with the Director-CEO of Continental Reinsurance PLC Dr Femi Oyetunji}

Continental Reinsurance initiated the journalism awards in 2015 to recognise and acknowledge the good work of media on the continent. Journalists are required to demonstrate how their articles raised awareness and understanding of the re/insurance sector in Africa.

Continental Reinsurance is a composite reinsurer, writing business in more than 50 countries across the African continent. Established in 1985 and listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in 2007, Continental Reinsurance provides support to over 200 insurance companies in Africa with its main offices in Nigeria, Cameroon, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, Tunisia and Botswana.  It also has a specialist subsidiary – Continental Property and Engineering Risk Services (CPERS) – registered in South Africa.

Nigerian Cancer Patients Lack Funds, Access To Quality Healthcare

Many cancer patients are referred to overseas by the Nigerian hospitals due to poor healthcare in the country. Odimegwu Onwumere writes that from the victims’ bank accounts they make public for assistance from good spirited individuals and groups in order to head overseas for treatment, government does not come to their assistance for funding, winning cancer in the country will remain a mirage 

{A Cancer Patient}

Aminat Adeniyi was 8 years old when her parents noticed that her chest was obtruding. Little did the Adeniyis who reside in Ajegunle Street, Alakuko, Lagos State, expect that what they had taken as a mere boil on their daughter’s chest would grow out of hand and cause the family sleepless nights.

All the monies that the family had saved were expended on treating the little girl who was 12 years old last year. The ailment was dogged that she underwent a surgical operation, which did little to ameliorate the disorder, but resurfaced barely four months after.

In the process, her father lost his job and the family was at a crossroads. Documents from the Lagos State Teaching Hospital, where examinations on the status of the disease were conducted showed that “the girl has a left chest wall mass of about nine years duration.”

The paradox was that when assessments had proven that the swell would not be painful, the girl’s condition worsened that she lost so much weight. Fingers pointing at cancer as the bane of the girl, the family expressed apprehension and were later advised to take the girl to overseas “for proper surgery by chest reconstruction experts.” This is without any government assistance.

Drained Funds

Since the father of the ailing child, Adeniyi Monsuru, could not get a support from the government; he resorted to seeking public assistance by giving out his bank details. This was the same case with Donald Nwosu, a Nigerian Medical Doctor who needed N25m (about $61,700) to treat cancer, July last year.

If not for Nwosu’s classmates numbering six that went online, using a platform known as Go-Fund Me, to appeal to public conscience to assist the medical doctor, he would not had lived up the July of last year. In their effort, they were able to raise $25,000, a fraction of the $61, 700 that were required for Nwosu to be alive.

The cases of Aminat Adeniyi and Donald Nwosu are but a few examples of the many cancer patients who are writhing in pains in their closet due to funds to take further step against their malady.

Emphasis On Public Financing

In a public presentation during the 2018 World Cancer Day in Lagos, a non-governmental organisation, The Dorcas Cancer Foundation expressed sadness that funding has become a dilemma to the fight against cancer in the country. Hence, the group frowned that government policies were yet to offer viable entrée for those living with cancer, especially children.

According to the founder of The Dorcas Cancer Foundation, Dr. Adedayo Joseph, “The best way to fight cancer is for the authorities to provide enough funds and put up policies that will give patients easy admittance to reputable treatment.

However, the authorities in Nigeria would always blame the citizens of not presenting their cancer matters early for diagnosis, a ploy the government has been using in order not to take blame for the lack of modern equipment in the hospitals across the country.

According to a source that would prefer anonymity, “Nigeria, with a population of over 170 million, has only eight centres for cancer treatment. Out of the eight radiotherapy machines procured by the Federal Government over 10 years ago and distributed to seven states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), none is functioning at present.”

Then-again, in its plan to screen 250,000 (eligible poor) Nigerians whom the government said could not pay for the services of screening, the government “appeals to private sector players, including foundations, to support the Federal Government in its quest to screen Nigerians for cancers by collaborating with us.”

Cancer Patients Dying

The authorities had admitted that they were not doing much to tame the surge of cancer in the country in the areas “of lack of basic equipment for treatment of cancer” as they said that 10,000 Nigerians die of the scourge yearly.

This acknowledgment was submitted by the authorities in Abuja on December 1 2017. It came even as the Federal Ministry of Health said the same year that at least 250,000 new cases of cancer were recorded yearly in Nigeria.

“Today, 10,000 cancer deaths are recorded annually while 250,000 new cases are recorded yearly in Nigeria,” the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole announced on Monday December 4 2017.

75% Percent Cancer Death By 2030

The World Health Organisation (WHO) regional director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti during the 2018 World Cancer Day, said Africa which Nigeria is part of, may hit 75% death from cancer by 2030.

“The cancer death rate is expected to double by 2030. Seventy-five (75 per cent) per cent of cancer deaths in the world are recorded in low and middle-income countries such as African member states, partly due to late diagnosis. Fewer than 30 per cent of low income countries have access to cancer diagnosis and treatment services,” as according to Moeti.

But over the years there have been promises by the government to seeing that the hospitals had modern cancer equipment. These promises had met little or no implementation, let alone, execution. Unlike Nigeria, the review of International Atomic Energy Agencies of all countries conducted in 2013 showed that only South Africa and Egypt have the competence of treating cancer.

The likes of Adeniyi and Nwosu were therefore skeptical of the recent promise made by the Minister of Health, saying that 70 federal health establishments were earmarked to get N11.5bn as part of the special health intervention project.

According to the source, “The special intervention projects include the tertiary health institution project, revitalisation of 774 Primary Healthcare Centres in each local government area across the country, purchase of anti-retroviral drugs for 20,000 eligible Nigerians and nationwide screening of common cancers (particularly cancer of the cervix, breast and prostate).”

The Minister believed that today in Nigeria, “The federal teaching hospitals, medical centres and specialist hospitals across the six geopolitical zones that will benefit from the intervention include 21 federal teaching hospitals, 31 Federal Medical Centres, four specialist hospitals, 14 fistula and cleft lip/palate centres.”

He pointed out that under the project, “each of the federal teaching hospitals will receive N300m while the specialist hospitals will receive N200m each. The FMCs and the fistula centres will receive N120m and N50m respectively. Other projects include 10,000 free cataract surgeries (i.e. 250 cataract surgeries per state) and free treatment of 800 patients with confirmed diagnosis of hepatitis C infection.”

Much as his words sound nice, those who know better said that government would always have sweet talks as if it was out to help the cancer patients forgetting that majority of Nigerians do not have the wherewithal to cater for their health needs unlike those in the government who sprint to overseas without sweat.

Conversely, the key speaker at a summit on cancer in Abuja, Senior Health Specialist, International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group, Dr. Olumide Okunola said, “We need to recognise and emphasise on public financing, Nigeria is spending the lowest in public health financing, per capital expenditure, and we need to upscale it.”

Therefore, it behooves the government to put all modalities in place to help cancer patients in Nigeria from going berserk where they are looking for funds to stay alive.

Odimegwu Onwumere is an award-winning journalist based in Rivers State, Nigeria. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

How Araraume Taught Okorocha To Be Godly But Okorocha Refused

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Chief Rochas Okorocha, the indefatigable rambling Imo State governor has a new agenda he wants to introduce in the state since Senator Ifeanyi Araraume indicated his interest for the governorship race of the state come 2019: Hatred.

The governor who believes and has said that Araraume is not ‘Godly’ and cannot govern Imo State, has shown himself as the rightful person that lacks spiritual  knowledge and the fear of God.

{Okorocha and Araraume}

This is odoriferous in the carriage with which Okorocha who thinks that he dines with God and is a family member of the Jehovahs, showcases himself in keeping malice and playing politics of acrimony, deceit and self-conceit.

These qualities, without a doubt, run in Okorocha’s blood like a virus and may be seen as his trademark. If not, one wonders why he would believe that Araraume would not earn his support and he would decide who Imo governor becomes in 2019 or not

The bad displeasure governor had shown his ungodly manners not only to Araraume but to many too numerous to mention. For instance, the Agbasos of Emekuku, near Owerri, will never forget the double tongue they earned from Okorocha after he deceived their son, Jude, to become his deputy.

Jude Agbaso was later hounded out of office through some spurious, trumpeted and kangaroo allegations. This happened after Okorocha had ‘swore’ before Chief Martin Agbaso, in the latter’s palatable compound at Emekuku, saying that Jude would go far with him in governance.

The raging Okorocha did that to earn the support of Martin, yet knowing deeply in his heart that he would not go far with Jude in the Imo politics. And this is what happened!

Many know Okorocha as a man who cannot be relied on when it comes to politics and Araraume perhaps knew about this peculiarity of the effusive Imo governor yet he loved him.

In the event of the 2015 elections in Imo State, Araraume directed his supporters to vote for Okorocha while believing that his action would be for Imo interest, oblivious that Okorocha would be an accident that many had thought would not happen in governance.

Araraume who was and has always been influential in the Nigerian politics gave the APC victory in Imo in the outcome of the April 11 2015 guber election. Araraume delivered APC in the six local governments of Okigwe zone, where Araraume comes from.

The Araraume whom Okorocha wants the world to believe today that has no fear of God, the latter presented glowing tributes of the former when he put the APC in the lead with over 79,000 votes.

“I want to tell you that I have seen a true man of integrity, a true great son of Imo State who came out to support me and the APC in the governorship elections without asking for a kobo,” Okorocha told the world after the 2015 guber election. “All he asked for is that the interest of his supporters and Imo people be protected. That man is Senator Araraume.”

This is the quintessential Araraume: A man whom many believe in that can put his head, not only leg, in a matter he so much believes in. Araraume so much believed in Okorocha, whom the Imo residents are suffering from the wound of the disaster that Okorocha has festered in the state today.

In the same year while in a church service at the Government House Chapel, Owerri, Okorocha was occupied of praises for Araraume. In short, Okorocha so much praised Araraume for the support he showed him, as a major determinant reason he won at the elections. If Araraume had no meek and amiable heart, he would not have supported Okorocha even when he was in another party, pre-election of 2015, other than the APC which produced Okorocha.

Let us not say that Okorocha is today sold out to greed and self-enrichment, while forgetting the hands that fed him. The irony is that he did not only forget the hands that fed him, but also, embroidered them with the mud.

Let us not also say that Okorocha is a chronic liar and deceiver who can do anything as a (godly person he wants the world to believe he is) just to get political power. And Araraume supported him to gain that political power and today, he is using it to inflict mayhem on Araraume.

Let us say that Okorocha is not ashamed of the malnutrition, hunger-related deaths, joblessness and food insecurity that have characterised Imo State sine seven years he has been in power. Instead of him to show remorse that Araraume is not the problem of Imo State, Okorocha concentrates on his long-term policies of blame game, over conceit, the unfortunate glowing tribute of the disgraced and resigned ex-president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma.

The insult which Okorocha is giving to Araraume today is unwarranted. But like Araraume would say to the rambling Okorocha, “It is only God who arrogates power, nobody can decide the fate of another; if you do that you will only be challenging your God. My destiny is in no man’s hand but God in 2019.”

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet, Writer and Media Consultant based in Rivers State. Tel: +2348032552855. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

Femi Otedola’s Kiss That Is Raising Eyebrows

By Odimegwu Onwumere

“Abraham Lincoln once said, “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my mother.” Ben Carson added, I’m not sure I want to say it quite like that, but my mother, Sonya Carson, was the earliest, strongest, and most impacting force in my life.”

{Femi Otedola Kissing His Mum}

The oil magnet and billionaire chairman of Forte Oil, Femi Otedola did not kiss a mummy or lust to a kiss that should warrant the clobbering he has been garnering from some persons since a picture showing him kissing the mother was made public.

According to a published text where the picture was attached, Otedola said that he would not have been what he has become today if not for the mother’s stoical stance in making sure that he succeeds. So, he kisses the mother out of nonsexual love.

While the oil magnet believed that he cannot pay the mother, Lady Doja Otedola enough, for her unlimited love to him, some persons believe that it is immoral for him to kiss her. In the words of an analyst, “This is immoral, for an adult mother and son to kiss on the lips! Shame!”

Whatever the persons in this line of thought were thinking, kissing is not a bad thing. But like psychologists would say, nothing is bad but the heart makes it so.

For instance, in Mark 7:21-23, NLT, “For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”

Conversely, many great men in the world who became successful out of their mothers’ inspiration, guidance, and so on had done more than a mere kiss to their mothers. For example, Benjamin Solomon Carson Sr., popularly known as Ben Carson, a renowned American neurosurgeon born September 18, 1951, has not stopped praising the mother, Sonya Carson, in his four books: Gifted Hands, Think Big, The Big Picture, Take the Risk).

Yours truly have read three of the books except ‘Take the Risk”. In these books, Ben praises the mother than is expected of any man in love with a woman. And he has been thankful to the mother whom her husband left two children to take care of, for another woman, when Curtis and Ben were but kids.

The mother who merely had a sound education except for cleaning people’s houses for a pay, was not deterred to be encouraging Ben with his low performance in the primary school.

Ben said, “Part of Mother’s strength came from a deep-seated faith in God and perhaps just as much from her innate ability to inspire Curtis and me to know she meant every word she said. We knew we weren’t rich; yet no matter how bad things got for us, we didn’t worry about what we’d have to eat or where we’d live.

“Our growing up without a father put a heavy burden on my mother. She didn’t complain — at least not to us — and she didn’t feel sorry for herself. She tried to carry the whole load, and somehow I understood what she was doing. No matter how many hours she had to be away from us at work, I knew she was doing it for us. That dedication and sacrifice made a profound impression on my life.”

So, Otedola’s kiss on the mother’s lips is acceptable and even expected of such an illustrious son. It is not what those saying it is immoral think. It is the kind of kiss that the bible Jesus exhibited to his disciples, to say the least.

A Kelli Mahoney, an expert on kissing said, “And we kiss our family members as a normal expression of affection. In many cultures and countries, kissing is a common form of greeting among friends. So clearly, kissing is not always a sin. Of course, as everyone understands, these forms of kissing are a different matter than romantic kissing.”

Otedola has every reason to kiss, caress and hug the mother for her positive influence mostly in his life. Some people like him can never forget the un-daunting zest their mothers deposited in them through life. Yes, women are naturally-muscularly feeble but you cannot limit the length their inner strength can go in the cause of raising their children and you cannot limit the level their children could go to reciprocate their love to them.

This could be the reason Abraham Lincoln born February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865 who was an American statesman and lawyer, and served as the 16th President of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865 once said, “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my mother.”

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet, Writer and Media Consultant based in Rivers State. Tel: +2348032552855. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com