Wike’s victory: So, Amaechi no longer dances alanta?

By Odimegwu Onwumere

When Governor Chibuike Amaechi put protocol aside and did alanta dance to the admiration of the unsuspecting crowd whilst the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) acting National Chairman, Dr. Bello Mohammed in 2011, handed him with the party’s flag to fly in the April 26 of that year’s election, he never believed that a day would come when somebody like Barr Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike would pinch the show of the alanta dance.

amaechi and wike

(Governor Amaechi left; Wike right)

Just as Amaechi is deafening our ears today, saying that over his dead body would Wike rule Rivers State or is it succeed him, so also he kept deaf ear when the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in Rivers State said that the April 9 2011 National Assembly (NASS) elections in the state were marred by massive electoral fraud, and called for the cancellation.

Amaechi’s men were declared winners of all the elective positions in that year, just as Wike’s men were declared winners of the elective positions in 2015, in Rivers State.

They say, what goes around, comes around. Even though that Wike may not be a better option for Rivers State, it behooves on all residents of Rivers State to advise Amaechi to cover his face in disgrace and stop crying foul. He is no longer dancing alanta because he feels that someone who knows the game better than he had thought he knew has outsmart him and took the trophy.

It is a joyous thing today that Amaechi has seen how it pains when humiliated. He has seen that the so-called power of incumbency no longer plays a major role in the Nigerian politics; unlike in 2011 when it guaranteed the incumbent Amaechi to‘re-elect’ himself into office, even when the electorates did not actually want to elect him.

In the 2011 election in Rivers State, the APGA, shortly after the NASS election, fingered certain individuals that allegedly perpetrated irregularities and violated electoral laws during the elections. The party however called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, to commence the immediate arrest and prosecution of the fingered. But who cared? When Amaechi was in power?

Just as Amaechi called for the removal of the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Rivers State when he saw that the 2015 elections were not in favour of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and him, and no one listened, so also was Amaechi dancing alanta, when the APGA Rivers State in 2011 called on the authorities for the immediate removal of the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Rivers State, Mr. Aniedu Ikoiwak. But who cared? The INEC boss was told to effect his removal for allegedly aiding and abetting electoral malpractices in the state.

Tamunosisi Gogo Jaja, running mate to Sir Celestine Omehia, Rivers State APGA’s gubernatorial candidate in 2011, addressed newsmen and was disappointed by what was called ‘peaceful elections’ in Rivers State, by INEC and Amaechi. So, why is Amaechi crying today that the election that saw the emergence of Wike is not peaceful but was marred by irregularities?

Amaechi should understand that Jega refused to investigate the Rivers 2011 elections, even when Gogo Jaja said that it was saddening to say that electoral irregularities took place in Anambra Central Senatorial Zone, Bayelsa and Delta States, compared to what played in Rivers State. And Jega investigated these mentioned places, without Rivers State.

Also Mr. Jerry Godfry and Mr. Precious Barido, who were the state chairman and secretary of the APGA complained in a statement both of them signed of police brutality and criminal intimidation by government officials during the elections, even as Jaja insisted that the April 9 2011 NASS election showed that Rivers PDP had the highest rigging propensity in the country. Yet, Amaechi continued his alanta dance ignoring whoever!

Just as Wike’s PDP today won all the elective seats in the 2015 election, so also Amaechi was dancing alanta in 2011, when the INEC said that the PDP has won all the 32 seats of the Rivers State House of Assembly in the April 26 2011 governorship and state house of Assembly polls. The rather controversial Ikoiwak was it who said the results were announced at various constituency levels and thereafter forwarded to INEC office in Port Harcourt.

The INEC said in that 2011 that Amaechi polled 1,178, 529 votes to ‘defeat’ his opponents in the gubernatorial election. The candidate of the APGA, Celestine Omehia came ‘second’ with 112,528, while the ACN, Abiye Sekibo ‘got’ 60,240. Declaring the ‘results’ in Port Harcourt, the Returning Officer in the state, who is also the Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt, Professor Joseph (Ajienka), said that 1,401,464 votes were cast, 141,4064 were valid and 27,995 were rejected .

Even when on hearing this and many people said that the result was not acceptable, alleging that there was massive rigging and that the opposition would challenge the results in court, Amaechi was dancing alanta to the chagrin of the opposition political parties. Then as Chief of Staff, Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike disclosed through a jingle on radio that the PDP had found out the plot by the opposition to disrupt the state.

Wike, who was also the Chairman Amaechi Re-election Campaign Organisation, accused the Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN) and APGA governorship candidates and their supporters of planning to cause violence in the state due to what he termed, the frustration of losing the National Assembly and Presidential elections. This may be what Amaechi and his supporters are planning in the state due to the 2015 election did not favour them.

Whereas before the 2011 election in the state, Wike had said that Amaechi’s supporters had also uncovered plans by ACN and APGA to impersonate security personnel to intimidate and harass his party agents at polling units. He advertised that in furtherance of the alleged plan, they procured fake army and police uniforms to infiltrate the ranks of security operatives; Wike added that APGA had taken a step further by procuring the illicit services of plain clothes police operatives from Zone 6 in Calabar to storm Rumuigbo on the day of election. While Wike was showing his conscienceless brand of politics in 2011, Amaechi was still on his alanta dance.

amaechis alanta

Amaechi was dancing alanta even as the then Acting Chief Press Secretary, Blessing Wikina, also added his voice that the government alleged that opposition politicians had spent sleepless nights in the studio, trying to cut and join clips of speeches and pronouncements of Governor Amaechi, made at different occasions, on different days, into a jingle that would ultimately give the impression that the speech was made at a particular forum; something like “the governor had promised war if not re-elected in the governorship election in the state”.

It behooves on Amaechi to forget however or whichever ways that Wike emerged as governor-elect, because in 2011, the Amaechi Campaign Organisation advised residents to ignore the purported jingle by the opposition politicians and focus on the task of voting for the only candidate (Amaechi?) that could bring about positive change in the state.

We are not sure of the dancing step of Wike and his followers since he was declared winner of the 2015 election like Amaechi danced alanta and his supporters also joined in the dancing fray, as he was declared the ‘winner’ of the April 26, 2011 gubernatorial election in the state.

Amaechi should go and rest and stop crying because the INEC said Wike won in this year’s election. One lesson Amaechi should learn from the whole episode is that it takes absolute morality to expose absolute immorality.

Odimegwu Onwumere is the Coordinator, Concerned Non-Indigenes In Rivers State (CONIRIV). Tel: +2348057778358. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com


Proud and Rude Nigerians

BEYOND RELIGION AND CULTURE: I had a discussion the other day with a woman on the subject of why some people are so proud and rude. Her own version of the interpretation opened up my contemplation. “Most of those people least expected that they would get to where they are; for example, the First Lady,” she said. However, I have seen some persons who have nothing but their ridiculous ego is ontop of the roof. I’ve diagnosed that many people think that people will march on them if they are humble and humane, so they choose to be rude and proud, thinking that they are strong and true to theirselves. As Igbo person who believes so much in the cultural and traditional ethics of my people, I have never used “Hello” or “Hi” to address anybody that I know is older than I am. In short, I do not use those words. I was taught by my teacher then that such words are used to draw attention of a person, and not a form of greeting. Regrettably, some of our people can be funny with their use of “hello” or “hi”. They have a mindset that they will be belittling theirselves if they use the conventional greetings such as “Goodmorning”, “Goodafternoon”, “Goodevening”. The worst are those that use “welldone” or “How far”. I won’t even look at you. It is human relation to be nice to everybody, but I see more people today who are rude, proud and arrogant, and they see their weirdness as civilisation. How many people know that “Pride is an independent, me-oriented spirit”? One Joyce Meyer says of this: “It makes people arrogant, rude and hard to get along with. When our heart is prideful, we don’t give God the credit and we mistreat people, looking down on them and thinking we deserve what we have.” What many do not realise these days is that, emotions, they say, are contagious. I’ve heard and read people say that the beauty of a woman attracts the men, but her character will either keep the men or make them run. Haba! When I look around today, I see many ladies who are dedicated to their beauty and, not how mannered they are. I lose credibility I have for people immediately their manners are tailored towards rudeness and pomposity. I like great attitude. Some people ironically misconstrue being rude and being confident. Let’s understand good manners and apply them in our daily dealings with people.

-Odimegwu Onwumere, Poet/Writer, Rivers State.

Nigeria tackles the maternal and infant mortality challenge

By Odimegwu Onwumere


THE government of Nigeria — seriously concerned by the high numbers of infants and mothers who die every year from conditions that are otherwise preventable — has embarked on a national programme to correct this tragedy.


Professor Julius Ihonvbere,  a political scientist who has served as Special Adviser to the Federal Government (FG) on Programme and Policy Monitoring, says that beginning with the 2004 budget, the health sector alone (excluding related ministries like Water and Agriculture), has received eight percent of the national allocation.


He says the main focus of the programme has been to design and implement a viable national health system that delivers effective, good-quality and affordable services to all Nigerians.


Similarly the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is also outraged that in Nigeria each year, 2.9 million newborns unnecessarily die within their first month and an additional 2.6 million are stillborn.


The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation works closely with national governments, the United Nations and bilateral agencies, non-governmental organizations and the private sector, and also collaborates with other global programmes in areas such as discovery, integrated delivery, nutrition, family planning, childhood infectious diseases, policy and advocacy, and communications.


The international charitable organisation is disgusted that in low-income communities, many women and newborns die during pregnancy and childbirth from conditions that can easily be prevented using cost-effective interventions like antibiotics, cord care (including sterile blades for cutting umbilical cords), drugs that prevent and treat postpartum haemorrhage, resuscitation, immediate and exclusive breastfeeding, and kangaroo mother care to keep the newborn warm with skin-to-skin contact and breastfeed.


As a result, the foundation has deployed what it says were proven, high-impact interventions. But it was irked that these facilities were hardly reaching all of the women and children who need them most.


The World Health Organization (WHO) corroborated this rather ugly scenario: it positioned Nigeria 163rd of 191 countries in terms of Disability Adjusted Life Expectancy (DALE).


Predicaments associated to mortality death

In his 2013 statement titled, “Improving Healthcare and Health Practices” Prof. Ihonvbere says, “It is estimated that over 500,000 women die each year globally from complications with pregnancy and childbirth. In Nigeria alone the figure of deaths from these complications is about 55,000.”


The revered academic averred that while the country constitutes about 2 per cent of global population, it, however, accounts for 10 per cent of maternal deaths at childbirth. This puts it next to India. About 40 per cent of women, around 800,000, that suffer from vesico-vaginal fistula globally are in Nigeria.


“Haemorrhage is responsible for 23 per cent of deaths among women that suffer maternal mortality while others are killed by narrow pelvis (11 per cent), eclampsia (11 per cent), abortion (11 per cent), anaemia (11 per cent), infection (17 per cent) and malaria (11 per cent),” he said.


Ignorance, corruption and hardships

About 600,000 women die of stealthy or prohibited abortions in Nigeria every year. Prof. Ihonvbere believes that a panoply of social, economic, health, and other family pressures and complications are responsible for these abortions. But most women, he added, especially in the peri-urban areas, resort to abortions under the “supervision” of unqualified or quack persons posing as medical personnel and, the laws are rather weak when it comes to punishing such criminal activities.


“Of course, those that survive such abortions end up with severe problems of infertility and ectopic pregnancy with the accompanying pressures on the family and individuals. Due to very poor medical facilities at the disposal of the majority of the people, Nigeria records 71 per 1000 infant mortality rate, 140 per 1000 under-five mortality rate, 51 per 1000 prenatal mortality rate,” Prof. Ihonvbere said.


UNICEF testimony

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) testifies that Nigeria loses about 2,300 under-five year olds and 145 women of child-bearing age every day, making her the second largest contributor to the under-five and maternal mortality rate in the world. This has prompted the country to embark on this programme to reduce infant and under-five mortality rate as part of her Millennium Development Goals (MDG) policy.


The UNICEF said that escapable or treatable infectious diseases such as malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea, measles and HIV/AIDS account for more than 70 per cent of the estimated one million under-five deaths in Nigeria.


Recently Dr. Nnenna Ezeigwe, the National Coordinator of the National Malaria Elimination Programme, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that Nigeria needs $500 million to win the war against malaria in the county.


“It is good and effective, Nigeria needs it as an alternative to the Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLIN), but because the nets are cheaper our partners decided to help us with it. Many countries that have successfully eliminated malaria have applied similar methods. As a country, we must take our destiny into our hands and commit the required resources to save people from the scourge of malaria,” Ezeigwe said.


Dr Ezeigwe added that malaria was also responsible for 30 per cent childhood death, 25 per cent of death in children under one year and 11 per cent maternal death in Nigeria.


Chance of dying from pregnancy and childbirth

This national programme to cut down child and mother mortality rate was prompted by actualities based on stomach-cringing. UNICEF ballpark figures that indicate that a woman’s chance of dying from pregnancy and childbirth in Nigeria is 1 in 13.


“The situation could be complicated by the lack of facilities, adequate information, political instability, corruption and institutional inefficiency. In other instances, a nation may have comparatively adequate resources and yet, have its health system in a state that makes it very difficult to deliver effective healthcare services to the people,” Ihonvbere said.


To address this issue

Research has revealed that presently less than 20 per cent of health facilities offer emergency obstetric care and only 35 per cent of deliveries are attended to by skilled birth personnel.


On its website, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, says: “To address the primary risk factors for maternal and newborn deaths, we work to adapt existing preventive and curative tools, technologies, and treatments as well as develop new ones that are more effective and affordable and will be more readily accepted by families and health workers in rural and community clinics, health centres, and hospitals.


“These include ways to manage postpartum haemorrhage, treat newborn infections using simplified antibiotic treatment regimens, and clean the umbilical cord.”


The body further added that further improvements are also possible through the development of new tools and technologies that enable earlier, faster, and more accurate assessment of gestational age and diagnosis and treatment of dangerous conditions, including measures to prevent preterm death. It sufficed that it is also providing first-level facilities for increasing number of women seeking to deliver their babies at such places. It also said that it provides an opportunity to expand quality services around the time of birth.


“Increasing the coverage of family planning services, especially among high-risk adolescent girls, can help significantly reduce maternal and newborn mortality. Improvement in the quality of antenatal and postpartum services can help strengthen the link between family planning and maternal and newborn health,” the body says.


The foundation invests in the development and delivery of interventions that can be used by families and health workers in low-resource settings to improve the survival and health of women, newborns, and young children.


Mariam Claeson, the director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s ‘Our Maternal, Newborn and Child Health programme’, which is part of the foundation’s Global Development Division, asserted that the organisation advocates for policies and programmes that support expanded coverage of high-impact interventions in countries with high burdens of maternal, newborn, and child deaths.


“Since 1990, maternal deaths worldwide have dropped by 45 percent, but every day about 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Almost all of these deaths occur in low-income settings as a result of conditions that include severe bleeding, infection, high blood pressure, and complications during delivery.


“Although, facility births are increasing in all regions and income groups, quality of care at birth remains a major challenge. Many women give birth at home and may not see a skilled health worker before or after delivery. Skilled health workers often lack access to critical supplies and medicines,” the body said.


Prof. Ihonvbere affirmed that the problems in Nigeria’s health system are legion and it is difficult to excuse any regime or administration since political independence in 1960.


“Overall, it would appear as if leaders at all levels – Federal, State and Local – have taken the people for granted and relied more on rhetoric, palliatives, half-measures and opportunistic interventions. Government constructed 200 Primary Health Care (PHC) centres of which 154 were fully stocked with medicines and handed over to communities to co-administer by health workers, local and state governments. There were plans to construct 250 additional primary healthcare centres across the country to make access to services available to the poor,” he said.


Odimegwu Onwumere, a Poet/Writer, writes from Rivers State.

Tel: +2348057778358

Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com