Toppling in maritime crimes

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Piracy and maritime crimes in the Nigeria’s sea areas have become un-abating in 2016, report experts.

“The new reports issued by the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB) show that kidnapping is on the rise in the region with 44 crew members abducted for ransom in 2016 and 24 of the incidents occurring in Nigeria, an increase from 10 incidents recorded in the first half of 2015,” reports Sulaimon Salau, a journalist with The Guardian, Nigeria, 28 July 2016.

During a UN Security Council Open Debate on Peace Consolidation in West Africa in New York on April 25 2016, Ambassador Michele Sison, U.S. Deputy Representative to the UN says that Nigeria is losing about USD 1.5 billion a month due to piracy, armed robbery at sea, smuggling, and fuel supply fraud as piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea increase at an alarming rate.

“Since the start of the year, at least 32 attacks off the coast of Nigeria were recorded, affecting many member states,” reports Bella Naija, an online news media, April 25, 2016.

Suspected sea pirates on Friday night, July 22 2016, killed an officer of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Bayelsa State, authorities have said.

“What we are having on the waterways is the fallout of what is happening in the country in terms of armed robbery and kidnapping. These people only moved from land to sea to perpetrate their evil acts. The difference is that they have mastered the water, unlike those ones that are operating on the land. It is like the Navy are not well equipped,” says The Chairman, Indigenous Ship Owners’ Association of Nigeria, Isaac Jolapamo, who is also the Chief Executive Officer, Morlap Shipping Company Limited.

{Dakuku Peterside}
{Dakuku Peterside}

The killing of the NSCDC official came after the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside swaggers while addressing an on-going IMO/MOWCA in Brussels, Belgium, saying that all the coasts in the country are safe for maritime investors’ activities, with Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) deployed to patrol and monitor the country’s waterways.

“We have a close working relationship with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) in order to foster an integrated approach to dealing with the menace. We have also increased surveillance and have deployed world-class maritime domain awareness assets in conjunction with the Nigeria Navy and the Nigeria Ports Authority to monitor our maritime environment,” Peterside says.

The Control Risks’ Maritime Risk Analysis, a renowned global team that sees to maritime issues, however, has shown worry that Nigeria is toppling in offshore kidnaps with presence of activism, terrorism, militancy, armed assaults being witnessed within her water ways.

“The reports show that maritime security incidents, at the global level declined by 24 per cent in the first six months of 2016, compared with the same period in 2015. They also revealed 98 incidents in the first half of 2016, compared with 134 for the same period in 2015,” the source adds.

Seeing the new development in maritime crimes, on April 15 2016, at a press conference in Abuja, tagged the mission ‘Operation Tsare Teku’, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, who was represented by the Navy Chief of Training and Operations, Rear Admiral Henry Babalola shows worry about this, hence an institution of a special task force to check this out, has been announced.

“Officials and private actors disguise theft through manipulation of meters and shipping documents. Proceeds are laundered through world financial centres and used to buy assets in and outside Nigeria, polluting markets and financial institutions overseas, and creating reputational, political and legal hazards,” a report by Chatham House indicates.

With the increase in the number of ships being expected by the Navy to fight maritime crimes, in April 2016, Nigerian Navy is giving flippancy excuses of their incapability to arrest the situation, saying, the non-fulfillment of preceding amnesty programmes to ex-militants in the country and economic problems are the chief reasons behind the recurrence of maritime crimes in the country.

“There was no maritime crime in the country’s sea environment from July 2015 to 12 January 2016 when various incidents re-surfaced in the country,” the excuses are revealed by the Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Eteh-Ibas at the Press Conference in Abuja.

The crimes that Navy cry about in the waterways may be seen as a prophesy come true when Dryad Maritime, a leading voice in the sector predicted last year that maritime crimes may topple in the country in 2016. The prediction was coming after there was a kidnapping incident where 11 crew members of a crew offshore of the Niger Delta were kidnapped in three separate attacks.

“Kidnap remains the most serious threat to mariners in the Gulf of Guinea, and further similar attacks will almost certainly occur in 2016. In previous years, heavily armed criminal syndicates have conducted the hijacking of larger vessels hundreds of miles from the Nigerian coastline, before sailing them back to the Nigerian exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and transferring the cargo onto illegal offload tankers,” reports maritime crime figures for 2015.

There are reported cases of petty theft to kidnapping and a single hijacking when world leaders had thought that in the Gulf of Guinea, crimes had dropped by nearly a third in 2015 compared to the previous year. Due to the pirates can demand, they target chiefly, personalities of crews like the western crew, usually the Master and Chief Engineer.

An Assistant Editor (News), Olukorede Yishau with The Nation on December 17 2013, accounts that naval sources said that Nigeria was losing about N250 billion monthly to maritime crimes, such as piracy, bunkering, smuggling, poaching, oil theft, human trafficking and other transnational crimes of which experts said in a year, N3 trillion was lost to economic sabotage.

“President Goodluck Jonathan (then) said 300,000-400,000 barrels of oil per day is lost through maritime crime. This represents more than 10 per cent of the country’s production. The country and oil companies, according to the Presidency, lose close to N250 million a month to this crime. This amount is just 10 per cent of what is lost to all the facets of maritime crime,” the source says.

Investigation reveals that Shell, a multinational oil company says in an examination, “The unrest has turned into a worrying criminal movement, which feeds on massive thefts of crude oil. Heavily armed and well-organised groups attack oil and gas facilities in the delta, shut down operations, kidnap staff and sabotage pipelines.”

The then Director-General of NIMASA, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, “What has come to be known as Nigeria piracy is the hijacking of ships by hoodlums who attack their targets, mainly tanker vessels with force, divert the vessel to a hidden place in the sea, siphon its products into their waiting vessel and then let off the hijacked vessel.”

Akpobolokemi adds, “Nigeria is now being categorised the same as Somalia as a result of these incidents. But the incident in Nigeria, even in the Gulf of Guinea, is not as high as that of Somalia where vessels are being hijacked for ransom. The Nigerian maritime stakeholders are worried at the increasing trend, as businesses are being interrupted, especially fishing trawlers.”

According to Ships & Ports, a leading voice on maritime in the country, “In total, 2015 saw at least 37 crew kidnapped for ransom in nine separate incidents off the Niger Delta. This compares with 14 incidents of similar attacks in the area in the previous year, which resulted in the kidnapping of at least 34 crew members. The number of crew taken during 2015 is on a par with 2014, albeit from five fewer attacks, according to Dryad’s figures.”

The source adds, “West African crew may only fetch several thousand pounds, whilst the criminals hold European crew until a ransom of over $100,000 per man is paid. The three crews, two Greek and one Pakistani, taken from MT Kalamos in February this year (2015) were only released once a $400,000 ransom payment was made,” reports Ships & Ports.

The battle-ready by the Nigerian Navy saying that it is bent on tackling the menace in the maritime sector is not novel. It’s noted that in 2012, the Navy were there and Shell lost more than 40-60,000 barrels of oil a day, leading the giant oil company to shut down lines, because crime in illegal connections, more frequent shutdowns, were more than in 2012.

“Barges take stolen oil to tankers waiting offshore for export. There is also a massive illegal refining business based on stolen crude oil. All these have reduced the amount of oil SPDC is producing, created environmental and social problems from oil spills and reduced government revenue that could be used to develop infrastructure and services,” the source adds.

The then presidential aide Ken Saro-Wiwa jnr., says: “The figures are huge. (Oil theft) could destabilise Nigeria. The business is worth billions of dollars a year. It is on an industrial scale, and involves commodity traders, international (criminals) and a whole network of people. There are some allegations that the oil companies themselves are implicated.”

A senior naval officer, Air Vice-Marshal Eko Osim, laments to The Nation, saying, “The maritime crime industry is not limited to oil theft. Smuggling, piracy and bunkering are top on the list of the crimes, as economic sabotage perpetrated through the water, where the country loses N250 billion monthly to maritime crime. This comes to N3 trillion annually, far in excess of what the country spends on education and health, which are in dire strait.”

In what sounds political, then Acting Director General of NIMASA, Mr. Haruna Baba Jauro in December 2015 expresses the agency’s commitment (like Peterside is sounding) in stamping out the activities of criminals in the seas.

Jauro makes this statement while speaking as a special guest of honour at the opening ceremony of the Nigerian Army School of Public Relations and Information, NASPRI, media workshop in Lagos.

“NIMASA had committed itself to ensuring the success of the working agreements with the Nigerian military in order to keep the Nigerian maritime environment safe from criminal activities,” Jauro says.

In 2014, Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Usman Jubrin then, in his welcome address at the occasion of the Navy ceremonial sunset and 2014 end of year ball held at the NNS Quorrah, Apapa Lagos, discloses how navy expected two ships from China and the United States of America before the end of year 2014, as they increased effort to stomp out maritime crimes in the country.

“Though this demands are heavy, the consequences of neglecting them are direr especially for a nation like Nigeria whose livelihood and well being are very closely tied to the maritime environment,” Jubrin said.

In a statement, according to The News, March 2 2016, “Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, Akwa Ibom State has revealed that about 11,000 cadets of the maritime institute who have succeeded in completing various cadet courses in the last 10 years have been denied the opportunity of doing the one-year mandatory practical training on board ocean going vessels. This is a requirement by the International Maritime Organisation that has been made impossible because Nigeria does not have a training ship for the cadets. Consequently, the cadets have been denied the award of the Certificate of Competency, COC.”

Sison says that the root causes of piracy in the region are “ineffective governance structures, weak rule of law, precarious legal frameworks and inadequate naval, coast guard, and maritime law enforcement.”

However, it may not be business as usual for pirates as Navy say they are ready to tackle crimes in the Nigeria’s waterways with the following ships: NNS Okpabana, NNS Kyanwa, NNS Sagbama, NNS Andoni, NNS Centenary, NNS Burutu and NNS Zaria.

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Rivers State based poet, writer and consultant. He won in the digital category, Nordica Media Merit Awards 2016, Lagos; and the International Award for Excellence in Journalism 2016, Geneva. Tel: +2348057778358. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

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Tinubu: The Near Feminization Of Melaye

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Senator Dino Melaye, the lawmaker representing Kogi West senatorial district and Senator Oluremi Tinubu, the Senator representing Lagos Central Senatorial District in the National Assembly, on Tuesday, the 12th of July, 2016, during an executive meeting, started a feud that was brought to the public consciousness.

{Tinubu and Melaye}
{Tinubu and Melaye}

Many people had condemned Melaye for allegedly making a statement during the altercation that he would beat Tinubu. Hardly did anyone arrogate blame to Tinubu. The later statement could be the reason in the USA, the enlightened among them coined a sentence thus – “Men-the New Women” – to show how men over there have been feminized and their women, ‘butchificated’.

Many men have eaten up feminists’ garri and egusi soup every step of the way but certainly, this food is not for all men like Melaye.

The Melayes have said and shown in their character that they are not girlie-men who buy beauty products as women and do not have identity crisis, no matter how feminists have pressed hard to bend them.

It’s discernible that governments have been helping to turn men into little puppies before women by instigating in the minds of young girls that they can do whatever they want to do in life, thereby feminizing men; forgetting that over a long period, men had played women’s protector.

An observer lamented: Women no longer need men as a provider, protector or father of their children; an anonymous semen donor can do the job of creating a baby if a woman so chooses. Since the 1960s, modern mothers have raised their sons to be women, soaking them in feminine values like accepting responsibility for household chores, being caring, understanding and attentive, and bend to every wish of a woman.

In the west, the current philosophy of western freethinking democracy is worldly humanism, which is chiefly feminine in character. Feminism has produced a crop of men who are now soft in behaviour, strength and they are insecure, because they are eroded masculinity.

In the west, anti-feminists are appalled of how boys grow up being feminized with dearth of any knowledge of “manly virtues like courage, resolve, self-sacrifice, justice, temperance, self-reliance, self-discipline and honour” because feminism churlishes these qualities once known of men.

We learned a Camille Pagilla, self-professed “feminist dissident”, in the Daily Mail, saying, “The entire elite class now, in finance, in politics and so on, none of them have military service – hardly anyone, there are a few. But there is no prestige attached to it anymore. That is a recipe for disaster… These people don’t think in military ways, so there’s this illusion out there that people are basically nice, people are basically kind; if we’re just nice and benevolent to everyone, they’ll be nice too. They literally don’t have any sense of evil or criminality.’ According to Paglia, the results are there for all to see in the on-going dysfunction in Washington, where politicians ‘lack practical skills of analysis and construction’”.

The pressure was on Melaye to repudiate his comment and plead to Tinubu, but he was stuck to his gun, saying that he could not learn how to be a coward now. He defended the masculinity in him of which the pressure that was mounted on him to plead for forgiveness was invariably headed to feminize.

Much as modern civilizations condemn any form of violence, the pressure that was mounted on Melaye to apologize to Tinubu without a recourse to the contribution of the later to the saga, may be seen as the near feminization of Melaye; it may be seen as the extension of the unsurpassed influence that women from the western countries are spreading around the world since the last 30 years.

Women are garnering momentum at workplaces to the detriment of men, yet their voice is heard of how unequal opportunities they are yet to match with the men. Women in western societies no longer want macho men. They are in love for/with men with feminine faces and features. But these are not for the Melayes of this world, no matter all that laws orchestrated to feminize men.

Women started this since World War II when men were in the battlefields, leaving the industrial fields for women. Since 2009, women, especially unmarried women, are toppling the men as breadwinners in a place like America, purchasing choice homes than the unmarried men. Yet, they breed children who never experienced fatherly role in their lives or know what it takes to be a man.

It’s even noted that the New Hampshire State Legislature is now made up of a majority of women. Women in government have continued to soar with a Hillary Clinton as the presidential hopeful for the Democrats in the USA.

Women are smiling for the recession that badly hit men with 80% of the jobs lost by men. This led the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives to characterize recession by a “he-cession.” Today, there are such matrix as, “Why Spoiled Western Women Don’t Want Men & Why They’d Rather Be Them.”

Yet, the ‘spoiled women’ around the world do not want to be to themselves and leave the Melayes of this world alone. The exposition of Tinubu at the National Assembly has shown that women are waxing stronger with propaganda such that they use template like – stop the violence against women – to draw worldwide pity and achieve their aim. Tinubu’s rather unfeminine gesture in the House, has buttressed a point that women are heading to not be known as weaker sex again, as against the aged-long periscope they have been viewed from.

Tinubu was afflicted with feminism and female gender-based affirmative biasness. The modern days women see any man that maintains his masculinity like Melaye as diehard chauvinists who only wallows in the ‘old school man’ mentality or is oblivious to accept the fact that women have become the stronger sex and a gender bias, relieving men of their aged-long-held position.

Women are succeeding in their quest to feminize men by using such statements like “We have a long way to go and it’s still a man’s world” or “there are not enough women at the top of companies for it to be leaning toward a female society”. Today, women are having great influence on the young boys, hoping that since the old or older men still hold the masculinity mentality, they can feminize the young boys.

These women’s agenda to feminize the men is today being championed in the schools. For instance, in many countries of the world, Nursery teachers, Primary school teachers, after school care workers, Preschool care workers are all women.

It is apparent that in a country like the United Kingdom, about 90 per cent of the above professions are manned by women, unlike 20 years ago when such professions were 50 percent controlled by women.

An analyst said that boys are gravely under-achieving in public schools in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Australia, according to several recent research studies. Men now encompass scarcely 40% of enrolled University and College students and graduates.

This person went further to say: In 2009, for instance, women (will) earn more degrees in higher education than men in every possible category, from bachelor’s level to Ph.D.s, according to the U.S. Department of Education. When it comes to masters-level education, for instance, U.S. women earn 159 degrees for every 100 awarded to men.

The story goes further to say that for the first time, less than 50% of law school graduates are men in North America. There are female football coaches for high school boys, especially those boys raised by single mothers. The irony is that these single mothers once had “traditional family values conservatives”.

Many men have become Mr. Mom only with a penis. Such men take authoritative orders from their women, without which, there won’t be peace in the house. Tinubu showed that she has this trait when she once left her seat and sat on the seat of the Deputy Speaker of Senate and was opposed to any male colleague she wanted to oppose without a blink of the eyelid.

Hardly is anyone asking questions why male fertility in sperm counts and disorders of the reproductive system of men have gone drastically bad since five decades now. Some people might not be seeing this as the feminization of men agenda.

Some persons are saying that evidence mounts that there is a hidden strategy to destroy male reproductive system with environmentalists and researchers giving the strategy a name – testicular dysgenesis syndrome.

They said it could be “gender-bending” chemicals – endocrine disrupters that are ever-present in the modern societies which are gradually feminizing men.

On July 10, 2015, Yvonne Holterman, a leading voice on this topic, gave instances of ways the society is feminizing men through food.

Holterman said that debating this is futile since the proponents of feminization of men are at work with high-tech conspiracy.

Even, the feminization of men agenda has been extended to male animals through Soy isoflavones, a chemical that makes animals aggressive.

There are high-estrogenic foods that are for the feminization of men. Holterman outlined them to be eight in number, like, Pesticides Through Conventionally Raised Fruits and Vegetables (Pesticides that are sprayed on conventionally grown vegetables (often GMOs) act as estrogens once ingested); Soy can decrease testosterone; Hormones in beef (To increase meat and milk products hormones are given to cows by some farmers. This meat, when ate by humans, is transferred to us. Once inside the body these compounds have strong estrogenic effects).

Others are Beer, Television and the Feminization of Men (Male feminization on television has slowly be conditioned into the psyche of men. This has dramatically altered behaviour patterns. To discuss this among some, it can be seen as homophobic. In reality, it’s recognizing that through diet and entertainment, a new male has risen and ‘he’ is more ‘she’ than ever.

Holterman went further to say that Unsaturated Fats (from vegetable oils are mostly soy, which is an estrogenic plant byproduct, among the highest on the planet. These are covered in pesticides, which come with their own estrogenic properties); BPA in Plastics (Xenoestrogen is a class of chemical that mimics estrogen in humans. Chemicals from plastics leak into cans, bottles, packaging of food, rivers, streams, lakes, oceans and everything else. Plastic is everywhere), and among others.

What many men and women who clapped hands for the wild-gender exposition of Tinubu did not take into cognizance was that effemination is a word for women and it is unmanly. They wanted Melaye to be effeminate while Tinubu, a rascal. But Melayes in the world are ashamed seeing men with effeminative qualities.

Some researchers have given instances that the agenda by the modern days’ women to feminize men is very unhealthy such that it is a serious problem. They applaud the Islamic society as holding tenaciously to masculinity, because no generation has survived being matriarchies. They said that matriarch societies do not survive and there has never been an Alexandra de Great or General Pat-Tina. Even in Africa, some long-lasting stories spotted women inspiring wars, but they never led them. Men did.

Some gentle and masculine-loving women in Europe and America are even showing signs of anger how they lost their countries and continents to the crassness of feminism. And this is the same platform that the Tinubus want to introduce in Nigeria.

They forgot that women like them in the other continents see marriage as not for them because of their lack of respect for men. There are single mothers littered everywhere. A researcher said that this is becoming “a la Bristol Palin syndrome” in America.

The researcher regretted that the only masculine men in the world today are named Adamu, not Johnson. And the Adamus are fast taking over because they don’t prefer the girlie-men which the Tinubus are championing for men and not taking to account the death of the society they are causing.

Authorities and politicians even give assurance to the public that refugee males that entered Europe from the Middle East, Northern Africa and Central Asia would be made to learn that Western women are independent and sexually liberated. This may be seen as where the weakness of the world started from.

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Rivers State based poet, writer and consultant. He won in the digital category, Nordica Media Merit Awards 2016, Lagos; and the International Award for Excellence in Journalism 2016, Geneva. Tel: +2348057778358. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

 

References:

  1. http://redpilltimes.com/europes-beta-feminised-male-society-is-no-match-for-the-onslaught-of-young-male-refugees-entering-the-eu/
  2. https://currentworldmedia.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/the-feminisation-of-masculinity/
  3. http://themacchoi.blogspot.com.ng/2012/11/the-feminization-of-men-agenda.html
  4. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201007/our-male-identity-crisis-what-will-happen-men
  5. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/nick-clements/masculinity-mens-fragrance_b_3981102.html
  6. http://www.stevenaitchison.co.uk/blog/the-feminisation-of-man/
  7. http://www.rense.com/general48/fem.htm
  8. http://www.debbieschlussel.com/19888/girlie-man-nation-western-women-dont-want-masculinity-why-decade-of-the-palin/
  9. http://www.enlightened-consciousness.com/8-disturbing-ways-society-is-feminizing-men-through-food-and-products/#sthash.WsrwpcxM.dpuf
  10. http://news.independent.co.uk/world/science_medical/story.jsp?story=487472

Let Tompolo’s God Be Returned

By Odimegwu Onwumere

“If we were to lose indigenous African religions in Africa, then diviners would disappear, and if diviners disappeared, we would not only lose an important spiritual specialist for many Africans, but also an institution that for centuries has been the repository of African history, wisdom, and knowledge,” Mr. Jacob Olupona, professor of indigenous African religions at Harvard Divinity School and professor of African and African-American studies in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences once said to Harvard Gazette in an interview.

{Government Ekpemupolo, (popularly known as Tompolo)}
{Government Ekpemupolo, (popularly known as Tompolo)}

Recently, a Niger Delta leader, Chief Government Ekpemupolo, (popularly known as Tompolo), on June 29 2016 called on the leadership of General Muhammadu Buhari-led government to return the spiritual symbol of his Gbaramatu Kingdom that he said was taken away by soldiers who invaded his town of Oporoza, headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom, in Warri South-West of Delta State, and took away the symbol of the God he is the Chief Priest.

On the said June 29 2016, Tompolo told Buhari in an advertorial, “Your military has not returned the golden sword (symbol of authority), as well as the palace staff picked up at Oporoza town, on Saturday, May 28, 2016, to Gbaramatu Kingdom.

“Today is exactly 31 days after the invasion of the traditional headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Oporoza town, by your military, led by Brig.-Gen. Faruk Yahaya of the 4th Brigade, Benin City, in search of me, with the allegation that I am the one behind the bombing and destruction of crude oil facilities in the Niger Delta region, and the incident happened in my absence…

“As I said in my previous publications, the military made away with the Symbol of Authority of the Gbaramatu people from the Egbesu Shrine, which I am the Chief Priest. They also made away with other valuables, worth several millions of naira from the community…”

Weeks have gone by and nothing seemed to have been said about the symbol of the God of our people in Gbaramatu Kingdom. The stillness that has characterised the outcry by Tompolo goes a long way to show how demeaning we are to our cultures and traditions for the alien religions of Islam and Christianity. Be it as it may, if such a heinous act was carried away in the church or mosque the way the supposed soldiers desecrated the Egebsu Temple where Tompolo is the Chief Priest, the whole world would have been rattled with noise and nuisance of how a God in Jerusalem or Mecca was disrespected.

Some persons would even be saying if the God that Tompolo was talking about was powerful, the God should fight his battle. But this notion is wrong and balderdash. After all, we have had Muslims and Christians killed by apparent assailants in their places of worship and their Gods never protected them. So, the God that Tompolo was talking about should be accorded with some respect like every other Gods. Taking Tompolo’s God without a blink is like a case of throwing the child with the bathtub; it is like beating up a child before the mother and asks what the mother will do.

Like Christianity and Islam which the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria gives upper hand against the aboriginal practices due to the toga of mental slavery that still characterises our clime and institutions, Egbesu is not different from other spiritualities of African diaspora that have spread in other parts of the world as a result of slave trade starting in the 15th century. These African spiritualities are revered all over the world, except in Nigeria, due to mental slavery.

In the United States and Europe for instance, Cuban Regla de Ocha, Haitian Vodou, and Brazilian Candomble are among the African spiritualities that the peoples of those areas do not toy with, except in Nigeria. Professor Olupona, said, “There is even a community deep in the American Bible Belt in Beaufort County, S.C., called Oyotunji Village that practices a type of African indigenous religion, which is a mixture of Yoruba and Ewe-Fon spiritual practices.”

Professor Olupona, added, “If we lose traditional African religions, we would also lose or continue to seriously undermine the African practice of rites of passage such as the much cherished age-grade initiations, which have for so long integrated and bought Africans together under a common understanding, or worldview. These initiation rituals are already not as common in Africa as they were only 50 years ago, yet age-grade initiations have always helped young Africans feel connected to their community and their past. They have also fostered a greater feeling of individual self-worth by acknowledging important milestones in one’s life, including becoming an adult or an elder.”

This is how seriously the outside world takes our aboriginal spiritualities. The Professor, enthused, “One of the things these diaspora African religions testify to is the beauty of African religions to engage a devotee on many spiritual levels. A follower of African diaspora religions has many choices in terms of seeking spiritual help or succor. For example, followers can seek spiritual direction and relief from healers, medicine men and women, charms (adornments often worn to incur good luck), amulets (adornments often used to ward off evil), and diviners (spiritual advisers).”

When the professor said that there are signs of the revival of African indigenous practices in many parts of Africa, Nigeria and her government are taking the spirituality in Tompolo’s kingdom away.

But no matter how forces against traditional spiritualities try, the professor would said, “Modernity has not put a total stop to its influence. Ritual sacrifices and witchcraft beliefs are still common. Moreover, the religions developed in the Americas impact Africa in that devotees of the African diaspora have significant influence on practices in Africa. Some African diasporans are returning to the continent to reconnect with their ancestral traditions, and they are encouraging and organizing the local African communities to reclaim this heritage.”

We can see that the world is returning to Africa, yet, we in Africa are ignorantly destroying and taking away our spiritualities and their symbols to the marines. This article is to join in Tompolo’s call that the symbol of his native home town’s spirituality that he said soldiers took away should be returned if not yet. No one should take the pluralistic nature of African-tradition spiritualities for granted. The professor said that it was as a result of this pluralistic nature of the indigenous spiritualities that has earned their success in the diaspora.

“African spirituality has always been able to adapt to change and allow itself to absorb the wisdom and views of other religions, much more than, for example, Christianity and Islam. While Islam and Christianity tend to be overtly resistant to adopting traditional African religious ideas or practices, indigenous African religions have always accommodated other beliefs. For example, an African amulet might have inside of it a written verse from either the Koran or Christian Bible. The idea is that the traditional African practitioner who constructed that amulet believes in the efficacy of other faiths and religions; there is no conflict in his mind between his traditional African spirituality and another faith. They are not mutually exclusive. He sees the “other faith” as complementing and even adding spiritual potency to his own spiritual practice of constructing effective amulets. Indigenous African religions are pragmatic. It’s about getting tangible results.”

So, let Tompolo’s God Be Returned!

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Rivers State based poet, writer and consultant. He won in the digital category, Nordica Media Merit Awards 2016, Lagos; and the International Award for Excellence in Journalism 2016, Geneva. Tel: +2348057778358. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

Some persons are too proud

BEYOND RELIGION AND CULTURE: What gets into some persons’ head at a little opportunity they see themselves, I wouldn’t know. I have watched some persons with keen interest how they carry themselves on feeling that they have ‘made it’. I came in contact with a young man I’m older by age. Just because he does a programme with Luv FM, Port Harcourt, he feels on top of the world whenever I lengthen my pleasantries to him. Perhaps, he feels that he is a celebrity and I, a backyard goon. Sadly, the real celebrities are the humble and quiet ones. He showed that unreceptive attitude I detest severally and today, if he exists, I can only see him if I begin to use medicated glasses. Whenever I’m alone and remember this young man whose only achievement I can attest to is the Camry he poses in, I laugh. I want to say that our greatest achievement is in being humble and respectful. Being whatever you think you are takes care of itself when you are humble and respectful. While we make the big choices in life, we should know that we are humbled in death. Maybe, as this young man sees me always on my motorcycle that I started using last year due to the pit-of-hell called Nigerian roads, I do not deserve his respect. Many of us have bad pride that robs of deceitful superiority. Many of us sadly concentrate much on what divides us than what should unite us. A celebrity ought to put smiles on people’s faces than sorrow in their hearts. Someone said on Facebook that what he likes is my heart, but the same person is showing me some ‘deceitful superiority’ today, because I can’t exhibit rude pride. But I know how I treat some persons whenever I wake-up with the left hand and remember them. The other day, a very dearly friend used her opened cleavages as her Whatzupp photo profile and I called her attention that at 32 she claimed she is, she ought to be a good role model to people. She pleaded and thanked me and pulled down the picture. But before hours, she uploaded a similar picture. I’m not seeing her again today unless I begin to use medicated glasses. She has been calling and all is history. Some behaviours are just rude and crude. We should not confuse pride with dignity, just as women in Nigeria show rude and crude pride when a man is wooing them, all in the name of protecting a woman’s pride. Hooey!

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Rivers State based poet, writer and consultant. He won in the digital category, Nordica Media Merit Awards 2016, Lagos; and the International Award for Excellence in Journalism 2016, Geneva. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

Failure of States to Ebola Response

By Odimegwu Onwumere

On Thursday, June 9 this year, Liberia formally rolled out the drums in celebration of their being Ebola – free.

According to medical science, Ebola is an infectious and generally fatal disease marked by fever and severe internal bleeding, spread through contact with infected body fluids by a filovirus (Ebola virus), whose normal host species is unknown.

{Volunteers fighting Ebola}
{Volunteers fighting Ebola}

In 2014, this strange virus wrecked countries in the West African sub-region, leading to 11,300 deaths and 28, 000 cases. To a larger degree, this huge casualty failure could have been avoided. From all indications, the Ebola spiral was largely as a failure of states in their quick response.

For some school of thoughts it is rather strange that Liberia is celebrating her Ebola free status some two years after the virus struck havoc in the country.

The last Ebola patient in the country was declared negative on 4 December 2015, and the country was declared Ebola free by the World Health Organization, WHO, an agency of the United Nations, UN, on 14 January 2016.

On the last count, a total of 4, 800 citizens lost their lives in Liberia, to Ebola. Again, like any other West African countries that were ravaged by the virus, the alarming rate of death was due to the gassy response of government.

“By October 2014, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia had lost more than 4,000 lives to Ebola due to boring response by governments,” Zaya Yeebo, a Ghanaian journalist and commentator on Pan African affairs, said on December 4, 2014.

Another leading voice on the subject matter, Crisis Group, an international group working to prevent conflict worldwide, said, “The international reaction was equally problematic and rightly criticized as dysfunctional and inadequate by many observers. Early warnings were largely ignored until cases began cropping up in the U.S., WHO, which had stalled for far too long on declaring an international health emergency, then proved incapable of mounting an effective response. The Security Council was forced to create a new body to scale up and coordinate operations – with variable results – the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER).”

Years Of Neglect

Since 1970s, Ebola had been and the response remained weak. Yeebo said that there was a claim by Kofi Annan, a former Secretary General of the UN that the response was weak, because the virus was affecting Africans.

The Journalist said that the claim was rather questionable with a view that the West perhaps hadn’t a glimpse idea that Ebola would leave the shores of West Africa and penetrate Europe and America.

The reason, according to Patrick Martin from World Socialist website, “The giant pharmaceutical companies that control medical research saw little profit in saving the lives of impoverished villagers in rural Africa.”

“So far, we know that research has been conducted on possible cures and vaccines funded by the US Pentagon, for dubious reasons. The US claims that this research was to protect ‘US soldiers who might be deployed to the jungles of central Africa. How many US bases are located in Central Africa to warrant this approach? However, claims that the Ebola research carried out by the US Pentagon as an antidote to ‘whether the virus could be weaponised for use against potential enemies’ in my view, seems more credible. The chickens have come home to roost,” Yeebo opined.

The Ebola epidemic was coming at a time West Africa was recovering from decades of conflicts. This pummeled health infrastructures. Continuing, Yeebo added, “In the 1980s through the 1990s, these countries implemented neo-liberal reforms imposed by Bretton Wood Institutions, International Monetary Fund, IMF, and World Bank, whereby welfare systems were abandoned in exchange for donor support.”

There was lack of accountability in Ebola funding in the countries, the civil society initiatives that bridge socio-political bonding and help create a more shared approach to crisis response were not fully incorporated into the response team, health systems were weak.

“It was only after the second wave of Ebola cases threatened the very stability of the affected countries that authorities took concerted action (with the help of Non-Governmental Organizations, NGOs, international agencies on the ground and donors), starting with the engagement of community leaders. Particularly in Liberia, they slowly learned what did not work and how to better communicate appropriate precautions and necessary cultural changes, eg, handling of deceased relatives that finally helped bring the epidemic under control,” Africa Report, 28 Oct 2015, said.

Using Ebola To Resolve Geopolitical Interests

Across West Africa and the world, travel bans were placed in severely affected countries as anxiousness about Ebola hyped in 2014. Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea were the most hit with Nigeria on the flaccid.

Ten countries, including the United States and Spain, were affected, and the world recorded more than 28,000 cases as was articled.

During the 2014 Ebola epidemic, West African countries, which were officially declared of Ebola on 22 March 2014 in Guinea, six countries in West Africa (Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone) were severely affected.

Quoting Martin, Yeebo said, “What makes the Ebola virus disease even more worrying is the fact that the United States, Britain and other countries are using this crisis to resolve their geopolitical interests. The US sent in 4,000 troops (marines) to Liberia. President is calling on his top guards to prepare to ‘intervene’. On the other hand, the UK government has also announced its intention to send 3,000 soldiers to Sierra Leone. Historically, American Marines are routinely used to restore public order or enforce consent.”

He asked, “If these countries are not at war, and there is no civil disobedience, why send in troops instead of doctors and nurses? In contrast, Cuba sent 160 Doctors and nurses to Sierra Leone, and will send additional 296 health care workers to Liberia and Guinea. The approach of the Cuban government is humanitarian whilst the approach by the US and UK governments is militaristic, seeking to exploit the crisis for geopolitical reasons. The real agenda of Washington is to secure a basis for its Africa Command (AFRICOM), up to now excluded from the continent by local opposition, thus advancing the interests of American imperialism against its rivals, particularly China.”

Lack Of Clarity On Response Efforts

Kim Yi Dionne of Washington Post on July 15, 2014, reported that government did not help matters with responses to the epidemic.

Dionne said, “A significant challenge in responding to public health problems is coordinating across these actors. Part of the challenge is the lack of clarity on who should lead response efforts. Ultimately, the success or failure of the Ebola response relies on the ordinary people who are at risk of becoming infected.”

Political parties hijacked the response for vain glory, there was greater lack of cross-border cooperation and information sharing on the health crisis, the UN Security Council barely paid close attention to the governance challenges in these countries where citizens’ trust in their governments and institutions was elusive; there was vacuum in the Economic Community of West Africa, ECOWAS, regional health surveillance, communication and coordination mechanisms.

Dionne noted that on June 30, 2014, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf declared that government would put-on-trial anyone “reported to be holding suspected Ebola cases in homes or prayer houses.” Similarly, Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma had also made such statement as Sirleaf’s.

The Washington Post’s reporter argued, “The statements were mischievous and capable of brewing increase in traffic of assumed Ebola cases to formal health institutions, where people can be properly isolated, subsequently allowing others who may have come into contact with a suspected case to be traced; ultimately curbing the outbreak’s spread. But is the threat of prosecution the best motivation for increasing health-seeking behaviour? If a government is ill-equipped to provide basic health services in far-flung regions of the country, how equipped is that same government to prosecute evasion of health care?”

Ebola Surmounted

However, the apprehension all over the world by July 2014 was that Africa will not be getting over her Ebola outbreak very soon. But she did, upon that there was poor health infrastructure in the affected countries. Before then, Sierra Leone and Liberia had been destroyed by wars and refugees fled into Guinea where health services were already poor. There was dearth of health personnel in these countries with Liberia having just 0.014 doctors per 1,000 people.

From March 2014, Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières), MSF, teams treated 10,376 patients in West Africa including 3,804 patients in Guinea, with the authorities saying that 110 health workers died from the virus in the country.

Sources say “Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontières (MSF) sent a specialized team to Gueckedou on March 18 2012, just six days after another of their teams already in Guinea (working on a malaria project) had learned from Guinea’s Health Ministry about what was then characterized as a “mysterious disease.” Conversely, with respect to coordinating response across the countries, there seems to have been greater delay. For example, it was not until July 2 2012 that the WHO convened a special meeting bringing together health ministries and partners involved in the Ebola outbreak to discuss a collective response. Only today is the WHO activating operations at a Sub-Regional Outbreak Coordination Center it recently established in Conakry.”

Bold Steps Taken

Despite the glaring shortcomings, health workers took blood samples for Ebola virus testing at screening marquees. Jingles, campaigns and the media were awash, all sensitizing the masses to wash their hands and know measures to address any suspected victim of the virus. Local ministries of health of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, Nigeria, WHO, (MSF, CDC, UNICEF, Institute Pasteur, European Mobile Laboratory Project (funded by the European Union), all responded.

At many public places, sterilizers were mounted at the entrances. People cleaned their hands with them. In 2012, Uganda recorded what analysts said was one of the more successful Ebola responses in history after the epidemic claimed 17 lives among 24 confirmed cases. The country had set up CDC, a lab at Uganda’s Virus Research Institute specifically tasked with the rapid diagnosis of viral hemorrhagic fevers (including Ebola) two years before the 2012 outbreak. Six days into the 2000 Uganda Ebola outbreak, donor community enhanced the Ugandan government Ebola budget (adding $400,000 to the government’s $285,000).

West Africa Not Sleeping

Upon the certification that Liberia is free from the virus, responses and sensitizations are still ongoing for any eventual outbreak across West Africa.

Sorbor George, chief of communication at the ministry in Liberia, told AFP, “We have been carrying on a sensitization campaign. This campaign will continue, and we will still be in readiness to contain any eventual outbreak.”

It is hoped they will walk their talks in order to avoid more agonizing deaths.

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Rivers State based poet, writer and consultant. He won in the digital category, Nordica Media Merit Awards 2016, Lagos; and the International Award for Excellence in Journalism 2016, Geneva. Tel: +2348057778358. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

Lessons from Kalu’s tribute to Shinkafi

By Odimegwu Onwumere

There are remarks we hear when we are in distress, such as a loss of a loved one. Some are encouraging and likewise, discouraging. It is a time that people who are close to us want to express their show of care and sometimes hate, to us. They even teach us how to respond to grief, owing to the fact that the death of a beloved is a tumultuous experience.

As the news of the death of Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi, an ex-presidential aspirant filtered into the air on July 6 this year, many tributes have been sent. Unique and encouraging among the tributes was the one by a former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu that was published in different media portals across Nigeria and, around the world.

{Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu}
{Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu}

In the condolence message by Kalu that was signed by one of his aides, he said: “The demise of Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi is a huge loss to the nation, considering his contributions to the social, economic and political development of Nigeria. Having served in different capacities, especially in the public sector, he died at a time his counsel on national issues is most needed… The memories of the late police officer will linger forever in the minds of many in the society.”

The glaring truth today is that we shall see Shinkafi no more and it is a great lesson to the living to begin to count his or her ways on what he or she shall be remembered of when on such a journey as Shinkafi’s. Kalu’s tribute has reminded us once again that death is inevitable. We know that this must come but the death of a beloved one splinters us to a larger emotional degree. We feel helpless, pain and worry.

The irony is that after some time of these feelings, we return to our old life and often throw away lessons that the death had deposited in us. There is no gainsaying the fact that grieving our loss helps us build a life after. Many of us know that grieving is necessary just as it is painful. While we go forward after that, enjoying life, we do not take into cognizance that we have to correct our ways for a day like Shinkafi’s.

Many of us perhaps knew what a Patricia Johnson said in “Part of the Coping With Death and Grief Series” thus: In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced what became known as the “five stages of grief,” which represent feelings of those who have faced death and tragedy. Based on her years of working with terminal cancer patients, Kübler-Ross proposed the following pattern of phases many people experience: Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.” Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?” Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will.” Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.” Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what has happened.”

 

We feel all of the above and yet, learn little. Juxtaposing to that, on January 14, 2012, I read an article on Forbes by a Panos Mourdoukoutas, titled, “The Ten Golden Rules on Living the Good Life.” Mourdoukoutas who said that he covered global markets, business and investment strategy, asked, “What is good life? What is happiness? What is success? What is pleasure? How should I treat other people? How should I cope with unfortunate events? How can I get rid off unnecessary worry? How should I handle liberty?”

Referring to mankind, Mourdoukoutas replied that the answers to all these questions are reduced in a modest book – The Ten Golden Rules – he co-authored with Michael Soupios, saying: Examine life, engage life with vengeance; always search for new pleasures and new destines to reach with your mind. This rule isn’t new. It echoes the verses of ancient Greek philosophers and most notably those of Plato through the voice of his hero, Socrates. Living life is about examining life through reason, nature’s greatest gift to humanity. The importance of reason in sensing and examining life is evident in all phases of life– from the infant who strains to explore its new surroundings to the grandparent who actively reads and assesses the headlines of the daily paper. Reason lets human beings participate in life, to be human is to think, appraise, and explore the world, discovering new sources of material and spiritual pleasure.

I must say that our responses to loss are good but it will be better when we apply the good lessons we have learnt from our loss. It is sad that we are living in a country where the governments at all levels only pay lip service to the deceased and after that the symptoms from the person are forgotten, like the person goes beyond, forever. The government cares less about its citizens alive and dead – physically, emotionally and spiritually. The practical guidelines to relieve the route ought not to always be about tributes but also, encouraging the citizens through taking care of them – spending time with them and reaching out to them – with human-oriented policies.

Conversely, those close to Kalu have said that he always reach out to his sphere of followers. He is apart. His tribute has reminded some of us that times are actually passing when persons parent their children to succeed them even from the grave, but patterning a lifestyle that the world we have left will remember us of is the fad.

Odimegwu Onwumere is award-winning journalist; he writes from Rivers State. Tel: +2348032552855. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

Where hospitals couldn’t save mothers and their babies

By Odimegwu Onwumere

“A nation which allows her women to die in the process of bringing forth life only exists on borrowed time.”

– (quotes Niran Adedokun, Premium Times, May 4, 2013).

With the deploring of more than 2,600 midwives to over 650 rural health centres across Nigeria, 650,000 Mama kits distributed for safe delivery, 2,300 midwives being trained in life-saving skills, 650 rural centres furnished with communication links to the national operations hub, 160 medical officers being trained in emergency obstetrics, Mary Thompson, 34, is one of the expectant mothers in Nigeria that prefer religious homes to hospitals. This is against the backdrop of the country meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target of reducing child mortality rates by a third in 2015.

“Maternal health is one of the big health issues facing Nigeria today. A woman’s chance of dying due to complications around pregnancy and birth in Nigeria is 1/15, compared to 1/5000 in developed nations. It is estimated that more than 53,000 women and 250,000 newborns die each year due to preventable causes,” (Making a difference with the Midwives Service Scheme, March 1, 2016).

For this aim, Nigeria was among countries in May 2013 that sent their policy makers that converged on Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia, towards spawning political obligation and supply assets to condense maternal mortality and attain universal admittance to reproductive health. The conference in Malaysia was the third edition of the Women Deliver Conference, an international meeting collectively put by Women Deliver, an encouragement assemblage encompassing a league of organizations.

The Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria was quoted in 2013 as saying that a regular number of 45 women died from pregnancy problems every day between January and March. However, the expectant mothers have a confidence that with their faith in their different religions, the aspect of reception to quality health and family planning are not for them. Officials say that this state-of-mind has resulted to a lot of women losing their lives in the cause of child delivery in the religious homes being that the time they ought to have used to visit a hospital they instead use it to stay in different prayer homes supplicating, looking for Utopian miracle that most times is elusive.

The World Health Organization (WHO) refers infant mortality to the death of infants and children under the age of five. WHO says, “In 2011, 6.9 million children under five reportedly died down from 7.6 million in 2010, 8.1 million in 2009 and 12.4 million in 1990. Global statistics on the challenge reveal that child mortality is more prevalent in the sub-Saharan Africa with about half of child deaths being recorded there.”

Methodically, for every 1,000 new born babies, 90 to 100 die in Nigeria within the first week of life. Experts say this is as a result of difficulties during pregnancy and delivery. The Nigeria Human Rights Commission (NHRC) lends its voice to that of UNICEF, saying, “Nigeria was one of the countries in the world with high maternal and infant death rates with a ratio of 545-630 per 100,000 live births, or 75 per 1,000 live births on the infant mortality index, according to the United Nations, UN.”

“The main causes of neonatal deaths are birth asphyxia, premature birth and severe infections including neonatal tetanus. Children also die from largely preventable communicable diseases compounded by malnutrition. These children do not need to die as over half of them could be saved by low cost, evidence based, cost effective interventions such as routine immunizations, the administration of oral re-hydration therapy as indicated, appropriate antibiotic use, nutrient supplementation, the use of insecticide-treated bed nets and improved breast feeding practices,” (UN Millennium Project report).

A pregnant woman praying. {Pic culled from internet}.
A pregnant woman praying {Pic culled from internet}

Most of the religion-believers expectant women have a narrow way-of-thinking, believing that since a woman is pregnant, the next level is to deliver her of the child. But they are most times oblivious that there are wobbly situations of pregnancy related impediments like obstetric fistula, which leads to caesarean section: a situation that occurs after a woman in labour must have exhausted all avenues for normal delivery. Religious faiths quite often make these expectant mothers’ situations very unfortunate. With an account that 40 percent of the worldwide commonness of obstetric fistula is counted in Nigeria in 2014, there is an evaluation of between 400,000 and 800,000 cases of obstetric fistula, especially in the northern part of the country and with an indication of 20,000 novel cases per year, said to be the highest in the world.

From the above explanation, it is not a bolt-from-the-blue why Nigeria still ranks high the list of countries with towering maternal and infant mortality rates in the world. Figures from the UN World Population Prospects and the Institute for Health Metric Reports (2010) are that the country has a ratio of 545 per 100,000 live births on the maternal mortality index and 75 per 1000 live births on the infant mortality index. Aside that the Federal Government by 2014 budgets about $3m annually to provide free family planning facilities for Nigerians, many pregnant women will not avoid going to their religious organizations for total therapeutic solutions to their situations than going for gesture measures.

“Every single day, Nigeria loses about 2,300 under-five year olds and 145 women of childbearing age. This makes the country the second largest contributor to the under–five and maternal mortality rate in the world. Underneath the statistics lies the pain of human tragedy, for thousands of families who have lost their children. Even more devastating is the knowledge that, according to recent research, essential interventions reaching women and babies on time would have averted most of these deaths,” contains in a report by UNICEF.

Thompson does not just visit prayer house to seek assistance for her pregnancy; in 2015, Nigeria remained too slow to achieve the Millennium Development Goals of reducing child mortality by a third, says UNICEF. The argument is that unnecessary or healable 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, because malnutrition still remains the fundamental cause of morbidity and mortality of a large proportion in Nigeria.

“Similarly, a woman’s chance of dying from pregnancy and childbirth in Nigeria is 1 in 13. Although, many of these deaths are preventable; the coverage and quality of health care services in Nigeria continue to fail women and children. Presently, less than 20 per cent of health facilities offer emergency obstetric care and only 35 per cent of deliveries are attended by skilled birth attendants,” the report says.

In 2009, Nigeria harangued reducing maternal mortality in the country in relation to the stipulated target of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the year was gone without her meeting the target. Nigeria is still not listed among the 10 countries seen to have made rapid progress to meet the goals. Yet, WHO blames haemorrhage, infections, high blood pressure, unsafe abortion and obstructed labour as among the problems besetting pregnant women in the country. In another vein, the international body sees bacterial infection, variants of gestational hypertension – including pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome, obstetrical hemorrhage, ectopic pregnancy, puerperal sepsis (childbed fever), amniotic fluid embolism, and complications of unsafe or unsanitary abortions as amongst the challenges facing pregnant women.

WHO bemoans that over 90 per cent of maternal deaths occur in developing countries, while 45 per cent of postpartum deaths occur within 24 hours of delivery; so it warns against malaria in pregnancy, pointing at it as a supplier to increasing maternal mortality. It causes premature infants with stumpy birth weights due to intrauterine growth retardation. A bulletin of the WHO 2014 reports that investments in health systems with universal access to services delivery (e.g. skilled birth attendance, contraceptive prevalence rate), health workforce (e.g. doctors per 1 000 population), information (e.g. health information systems), medical products, vaccines and technologies (e.g. measles vaccine coverage), financing (e.g. total health expenditure per capita), health systems governance (e.g. adoption of enabling policies for women’s and children’s health), can help reduce problems of morbidity and infant mortality in the country.

Others are sectors outside health: investments and policies that are health-enhancing, promoting vibrant rural and urban communities, including through infrastructure development (e.g. electricity: kilowatt hours/capita), ensuring universal enrolment and completion of primary education and expanded access to post-primary and higher education (e.g. girls’ primary school enrolment), improving environmental management (e.g. access to clean water), building national capacities in science, technology and innovation (e.g. number of scientific publications, Global Innovation Index), population dynamics (e.g. total fertility rate, % urban population), women’s political and socioeconomic participation (e.g. % female parliamentarians), overcoming inequalities and realizing rights (e.g. Gini; ratification of human rights treaties), economic development (e.g. GDP per capita).

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Rivers State based poet, writer and consultant. He won in the digital category, Nordica Media Merit Awards 2016, Lagos; and the International Award for Excellence in Journalism 2016, Geneva. Tel: +2348057778358. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com