The Youth Many Of Us Did Become And Will Not Become

By Odimegwu Onwumere

I started thinking again recently of my youthful days after reading Forbes edition of July 20, 2016 in which a 28-Year-Old John Crestani was said to have read the bible and the Bhagavad Gita (Hindu scripture) for years to make money, but his turning-point came after reading a business book and today he makes thousands of dollars a day. In short, Forbes has it that as a result of Crestani’s never-give up spirit, he built an associate marketing network that at the moment brings $250,000 to $500,000 per month to his pocket and he travels the world.

While I was mesmerizing on the fortunes of Crestani, there were and are going to be more 4.7 million middle and high school students using a tobacco product, alcohol. The researchers from the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had in 2011 heralded this rather ugly situation that has been befalling the youths. From east, west, north and south, many youths were not and some are becoming terrorists. But that was not at 21 when Crestani’s fortune came in 2009, when he fled Thailand after not being successful at college due to economic situation. Regrettably, many of us at that age hadn’t any other direction than to go to college or join trade or learn a skill or the other. We didn’t know and are not going to know that people were and are making millions of money on online businesses. In short, many of us had and have confusing direction of not knowing where to start from.

Crestani’s success at that age when most of us were and are still feeding from our parents pots of soup has made me to think of the youth I never was and many will not be. It is not that I was a loafer as a youth, but imagine where many of us were not married at 35, even at 40, due to economic challenges. Because of this, some persons have called the present youths a lost generation. But I beg to disagree on this, because Crestani and others from Nigeria never disappointed the 20th and 21st centuries. But before we go to Nigeria, we have Mark Elliot Zuckerberg, an American programmer, Internet entrepreneur, and philanthropist, born May 14, 1984, who together with his college roommates and fellow Harvard University students Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes launched Facebook from Harvard’s dormitory rooms and today, he is chairman, chief executive officer, and co-founder of Facebook with his net worth estimated to be US$51.2 billion, as of June 2016, ranking him as the 6th richest person in the world.

In Nigeria we have Orji Uzor Kalu – billionaire founder of Slok Group now 56 who was a millionaire at 19; there is Cosmos Maduka who was a street “akra” seller but now – founder of Coscharis Group (sole distributor of BMW vehicles in West Africa); we have Michael Collins Ifeanyi Enebeli Ajereh (aka Don Jazzy) – famous music producer and co-founder of defunct Mo’Hits Records, now CEO of Marvin Records, and many others. These persons made fortunes in their youthful days and many of us will not be the youths they were and are. The wealth many of us did not make yesterday is a great problem to us today and it is going to be a greater problem to youths of tomorrow who fail to make wealth today. Many a youth would hinge their failures on the two recessions hitting the world known as “the Great Recession and the Greater Recession”. But for ages, recession has not been aloof, yet many poor persons sent poverty on errand. We will continue to have such things as reduction in all goods and services, yet, many youths will spring up to be renown and many will not be. Many of us had thought and still think that youths with low education will not be successful in the attainment of incomes. However, just on Sep 23, 2011 there was the “Forbes 400: The Self-Made Billionaire Entrepreneurs Who Said No To College”. The number must have increased by now in the part of clime where the survey was conducted and around the world where survey is yet to be conducted on such.

Many of us as youths were and never and (are) going to be indoctrinated into joining radical groups and movements. We know the story behind the Hitler Youth, especially in Rhineland city of Bruehl, where in 1939, membership in Nazi youth groups was made mandatory “for all boys and girls between the ages of ten and eighteen.” According to a statement credited to Adolf Hitler in 1938, “These boys and girls enter our organizations at ten years of age, and often for the first time get a little fresh air; after four years of the Young Folk they go on to the Hitler Youth, where we have them for another four years . . . And even if they are still not complete National Socialists, they go to Labor Service and are smoothed out there for another six, seven months . . . And whatever class consciousness or social status might still be left . . . the Wehrmacht (German armed forces) will take care of that.”

Many of us didn’t grow, have grown and are going to grow obesity.

There were, are, never many anxious, depressed, anti-social youths. Many had, have never and are going to have these traits. On Monday 13 September 2004, I read an article by a Madeleine Bunting in the Guardian, saying, “Three-generation survey reveals sharp decline in teenage mental health.” We were meant to understand that “The mental health of teenagers has sharply declined in the last 25 years and the chances that 15-year-olds will have behavioural problems such as lying, stealing and being disobedient, have more than doubled.” These are some of the traits some of us had, never had and are going to have. The paper went forward, “The rate of emotional problems such as anxiety and depression has increased by 70% among adolescents, according to the biggest time trend study conducted in Britain.”

In my time as a youth, behavioural problems were not common, but today, the source said that between 1974, 1986 and 1999, behavioural problems have increased above the roof. “The deterioration of adolescents’ mental health in Britain is in contrast to the findings of research in the US which showed that a comparable decline tailed off in the 90s, while in Holland, there was no decline at all,” said the study. From Harriet Sergeant of Daily Mail, 19 September 2009, showed how “a generation of violent, illiterate young men are living outside the boundaries of civilised society… Thousands of teenage boys are failing to make the successful transition to manhood.”

I was meant to understand that many millions of youths had left, never left, are leaving and are going to leave school without gaining the basic qualifications of five good GCSEs. When the society cannot provide for these youths who have had no prerequisite qualifications to fend for themselves, they turn to crime. We are today seeing the uncountable number of crimes ongoing among the youths across the world. Governments, groups and individuals can only be putting up initiatives for early interventions in the lives of youths, but certainly, there will continue to be a John Crestani that many youths did become, are to become and will not become.

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Rivers State-Nigeria based poet, writer and consultant.

Email: odimegwu@journalist.com

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Kalu, keeping hope alive in Buhari

By Odimegwu Onwumere

It is three months that a former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu told Nigerians in service of this year’s Democracy Day, on May 29, to keep hope alive and have patience with the government of Major General Muhammadu Buhari.

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

I’m responding to the comment now because in Igbo, we believe that a man does not give his verdict over an issue, till he must have slept over it. I’ve slept over it!

For the avoidance of doubt, the statement of Kalu reads, “Nigerians must display endurance at this critical time as President Buhari cleans the Augean stable. It is quite easy and simplistic to destroy but takes a longer period, commitment, hard work and sacrifice to correct ingrained anomalies. There can be no magic wand in sorting out the maze of unprecedented corruption, official banditry, nonchalant looting and holistic underdevelopment, which characterised the immediate-past government.”

Before Kalu’s comment of hope, I had seen Buhari being represented in a statement in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, saying, “There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.” So, Buhari does not care!

I’d not seen any cogent reason to align with Buhari or have hope in his government, because he is dogmatic; and dogmatists do not make good democrats. But regarding the fact that Kalu who is renowned for being a social democrat has made the comment of hope, I think there is a reason to look at Kalu and his comment of hope again.

My position in this treatise is not to say whether the immediate-past government that Buhari succeeded was corrupt or not. What I want say is the underlining hope in the statement by Kalu, which points him out as a man of hope. This has made many Nigerians to have hope in Kalu.

On July 8, this year, Kalu who never had any government contract since democracy was attained in 1999, equally said that he was yet to believe that the anti-corruption war by Buhari was selective.

Also, hear Kalu, “I do not believe that the anti-corruption war by President Buhari is selective. Someone may look at it in the perspective that it is selective because it is the people in the previous government that are involved and this is because they are the ones who handled the money during that period.

 

 

“I support President Buhari in the fight against corruption, but as we are fighting corruption, we should also look at the industrial base of the country. No country can survive with only politics. The economy is very important to the nation.”

While Kalu came to Buhari’s rescue in these times that Nigerians are growing Iroko-size of impatience against the government of Buhari, I want to keep hope alive in the sense that Kalu is one gold that glitters and that is good, unlike what it used to be, “All that is gold does not glitter.”

Why I’m interested in what Kalu told Nigerians was that he had advised Buhari not to be like Chief Olusegun Obasanjo used the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to settle scores with his political opponents. So, Kalu had.

A comment by Kalu in this regard, reads: “He (Buhari) should not fight corruption the way former President Olusegun Obasanjo did, when you have seen me spend security vote and you are after me on that to settle personal scores. You pursue people for not supporting your inordinate ambition and policies, it is wrong. I appeal to President Buhari not to get involved in that kind of corruption-fighting and I am happy he has appointed someone who has lesser belief in material things, as acting chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). I am saying this because when all these people say they are fighting corruption, they don’t really fight corruption. You know I don’t fear anybody; I’m not even afraid of dying today and not afraid of not saying the truth.”

Kalu was telling us that from the ashes of a fire shall the phoenix be woken; something that he had experienced before he attained his global status as a distinguished entrepreneur and anti-corruption crusader.

I want to deem Kalu that we should be patience with the clumsy Buhari government because I had known from a Friedrich Nietzsche, saying, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” It was not that Kalu deeply loves Buhari or deeply hates Nigerians and he made that comment of patience. What I have understood by the comment, when others were perhaps shouting ‘Kalu!’ was that Kalu’s love for Nigeria gives him strength and courage that all would be fine again.

Others might not have seen what Kalu saw before making that comment; he is one man that does not say things because he wants his voice to be heard. No. He does not say things because he wants others to praise him. No. He shows the words of Mahatma Gandhi of India in the work “All Men are Brothers: Autobiographical Reflections” in practice, which is that the weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.

Gandhi had affirmed the position of Kalu today, when the former said, “Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”

Kalu is not weak that he cannot forgive; he is strong, but not as strong in the words of President Obama, when later said, “Africa needs strong institutions, not strong men.”   Kalu believes in the words of J.K. Rowling, saying, we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided. Kalu believes that all mankind should show positive expression, even in the face of disheartening courage.

We have to be united in the hope that Kalu has raised and not in looking at the directionless government of Buhari that its proceedings have broken a lot of people down. I’m protected by the hope that Kalu had raised and not in the government that had broken many with yearning, making many to be in solitude, not to love again, because of government-generated hardship.

Kalu had raised hope for Nigerians to see the reason they must still be proud, whereas the government continued to break a lot of people’s heart. Oh! I’m taking solace in the words of Kalu which invariably depicted the words of a Albert Camus, saying, “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”

It was Dalai Lama XIV who said that there is a saying in Tibet, ‘Tragedy should be utilised as a source of strength. No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.” So, we have to thank Kalu for building that courage of patience, which is most important of all the virtues of life.

{Major General Muhammadu Buhari}
{Major General Muhammadu Buhari}

Kalu has shown character, courage, essence, determination, goodness, fortitude inspiration, life-lessons, persistence, resolve, self-reliance, strength in making sure that Nigerians keep hope alive.

Odimegwu Onwumere is award-winning journalist based in Rivers State. Email: odimegwu@journalist.com

Ngige Boosting Work Condition Through Labour Policy

By Odimegwu Onwumere
Optimism has been raised for the microscopic number of employed, gigantic number of unemployed and underemployed Nigerians by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige (Onwa) on August 16 2016; he made public a new national policy on labour migration. The policy if sustained would give Nigerians proportional leverage in the labour market.

{Chris Ngige}
{Chris Ngige}

This policy is essential in these times when cry is everywhere that Nigerians have not been treated favourably at their different work places; it’s of note that the insecurity that characterises the workforce in the country has compelled a lot of people to leave the shores of the country legally and illegally in search of secured job opportunities elsewhere.

The thinking Ngige who had proved his leadership mettle beyond doubt as Governor of Anambra State and later Senator, can be seen is much engrossed in the new labour policy in order to curtail any underhand dealings that has been pummeling labour in the country. In making sure that Nigerians no longer die trying to cross the Sahara and the Mediterranean Seas, Ngige did not only expose the Policy on Labour Migration, but also unveiled two committees: Technical Working Committee and Social Partner Advisory Committee for implementation of the policy.
In the words of Ngige, “This is of utmost concern to the present administration as no responsible government will sit back and watch the depletion of its human resources which is the most critical factor of production and national development.’’
Little did some Nigerians believe the federal government when it partnered the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) in Abuja on April 18 2016, to build migration-related knowledge and database, but many Nigerians who believe in Ngige knew that (while addressing a team of experts from the ICMPD) whatever that he touches becomes gold under any circumstance. The labour policy was coming after Ngige’s disclosure at Abuja, in December 2015, saying that the leadership of the ministry had plans to revive the National Labour Advisory Council, NLAC.
Before the Labour Policy was exposed to the public on August 16 2016, the elated Ngige had said before the team of experts from the ICMPD, “Up-to-date evidence and information about labour market needs and migrant workers’ profiles, including their origin, citizenship, age and sex composition, education and skills, qualification, labour force participation are irreducible variables for mutually gainful labour migration.
“Sector of work treatment, conditions of work and extent of integration are necessary for effective labour administration, policy implementation, impact assessment, monitoring and evaluation, but most of the needed information are lacking in Nigeria. The ministry has to therefore partner the ICMPD to bridge the data gap.”
Having a data base for workers in Nigeria would help a lot; and this is what Ngige had told Nigerians that the ICMPD had agreed to support Nigeria as instrument for national survey on labour migration and development. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) defines Labour Force Survey as a standard household-based survey of work-related statistics. Many countries and territories make their Labour Force Surveys available online, with different labour statistics and meta-data for over 200 countries and territories found and are available from the ILOSTAT database.
While Ngige has brought up this policy, there is the EU LFS which is a large household sample survey that gives quarterly results on labour participation of people aged 15 and over and persons outside the labour force in Europe, unlike Africa.
Eurostat, a key to European statistics, informed, “The European Union Labour Force Survey (EU LFS) is conducted in the 28 Member States of the European Union, 2 candidate countries and 3 countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) in accordance with Council Regulation (EEC) No. 577/98 of 9 March 1998. At the moment, the LFS microdata for scientific purposes contain data for all Member States plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.”
Since this policy obtains in other climes, it’s not out of place that the Project Manager, ICMPD, Mr. Naozad Hodiwala, said the connoisseurs came to Nigeria for technical assistance on migration management because the Federal Government requested. The most heartening was the wise advise by Ngige, saying, “While we create these jobs, we also need to support people who have the desire to migrate their expertise to other countries where they are needed, so that we don’t have excess labour force here. But we must do this in consonance with the international best practices so that our skilled people going out of the country do not become an embarrassment to their host countries. So we want them to be guided as legal residents and accorded all rights for decent jobs in conformity with ILO convention.”
It is weighty that the labour policy is being championed by Ngige and if well managed would abate the increasing casualisation of labour in the country that cuts across practically all sectors of the Nigerian economy such as oil and gas, telecommunications, banking, construction, mining, among others.
In May 2015, Mr. Igwe Achese of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, (NUPENG), at a rally to mark the 2015 May Day in Abuja, said, “Issues on casualization in the country must be properly looked into to ensure workers are not cheated by employers. The menace is rather on the increase especially in the oil and gas and financial sectors of the nation’s economy.”
Recently, the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) disclosed the high moments of frauds and forgeries ongoing in the banking system and the use of contract and outsourced staff, during its examination exercises of that sector. Pundits said that contract employment and casualisation of labour contravene Section 7 (1) of the Labour Act, Cap 198, Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1990; adding that “not later than three months after the beginning of a worker’s period of employment with an employer, the employer shall give the worker a written statement, specifying the terms and conditions of employment.”
Ngige could as well look into the statement of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) Rivers State Chapter. Comrade Chika Onuegbu of the union at this year’s International Workers’ Day, said, “The joint leadership of the organized labour in the country had proposed and presented a new minimum wage of N56,000.00 (Fifty-six thousand naira) to the Federal Government.”
However, in July, 2016, while represented by the Director, Trade Dispute and Industrial Relations, Mrs Chinedu Dike, at the International Trade Union Congress (ITUC-Africa) Regional Conference on “Advancing Decent Work in Global Supply Chain in Africa”, held in Abuja, Ngige said that government was committed to job creation, social protection and promoting social dialogue which would be given top priority in the present administration. It is believed that with the Labour Policy, Ngige who was accused of not making much effort to lengthily address the casualisation palaver would arrest the situation.

Odimegwu Onwumere is an award-winning journalist based in Rivers State. Email: odimegwu@journalist.com

Political Party (Poem)

Political Party
 
By Odimegwu Onwumere
This political party
Has started holding itself down.
 
No one knows when this will end.
 
It is holding itself down
After holding us down for over a decade
With misrule, misdeed and misadventure.
 
We are yet struggling with our piteous mood.
 
Then came in their political imbroglio
Of leadership tussle, leadership higgledy-piggledy.
We don’t know what to do, how to solve
The many ruins we are in
Because of their mess.
 
Odimegwu Onwumere is award-winning journalist based in Rivers State. Tel: Email: odimegwu@journalist.com

Our Killers (Poem)

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Words are failing us

in the hands of our killers

who kill us

neither for the love of killing

nor for the hate of us – their victims.

They just want to kill.

{Terrorists: culled from Internet}
{Terrorists: culled from Internet}

They have no agenda

for their inglorious occupation,

not even us nor them

know when we would stop being killed

nor them stop killing us.

Words are failing us

to define why we are being killed

nor them telling us

why they are killing us.

Odimegwu Onwumere is award-winning journalist based in Rivers State. Tel: Email: odimegwu@journalist.com

How Hospitals Kidnap Mothers, Kids, Over Debts

By Odimegwu Onwumere

The harsh economic times in Nigeria is currently forcing humanitarian organisations to do the absurd. For instance in the health sector, all the good virtues of Florence Nightingale, the mother of nursing, have been thrown into the abyss. Medical doctors act on patients no matter how critical the condition, based on the colour of their currency bill.

Kidnapping, which was used by the Niger Delta militants to pursue their course, has become a big business even for hospitals across the country. Virtually on daily basis news reports from the media assault our collective conscience of hospitals, and health centres taking their patients hostage due to their inability to settle their bills. The most piteous is the agonising sight of mothers and babies being held captive by health organisations because of their inability to pay bills in, on time.

{Mothers in hospital - Vanguard Picture}
{Mothers in hospital – Vanguard Picture}

Findings by this writer showed that many mothers have been detained by hospitals officials they were delivered of their babies in, for failure to pay hospital bills popularly known as Awaiting Bill Settlement (ABS), they were charged.

They were billed money ranging from N500, 000 to N200, 000 as the case may be, checks have revealed, whereas many of the mothers were housewives and their husbands had little or no means of resources.

Government hospitals charged between N11, 000 and N40, 000 for antenatal alone, while private hospitals charged between N25, 000 and N100, 000, said editors of a leading newspaper.

They said the monies exclude charges for birth “either through normal delivery or by Caesarean Section (CS) and post natal care including the use of phototherapy and incubator for babies with jaundice and premature respectively.”

In some cases, the women’s husbands eloped or stopped picking calls from their wives or the hospitals authorities when they had exhausted all avenues to raise money and get their wives out of the hook.

The biting wit in most cases was that many of the women had to feed themselves and their babies, when those who were supposed to be bringing food to them from their homes, stopped bringing food on ground of scarce resources to afford food.

Solicit For Public Help

In June 2016, Gloria Okore was under arrest by the authorities of a private hospital in Lagos she was delivered of her set of triplets in, for her incapacitation to offset her medical bills of N35, 000, which was a fraction of N120,000, she was supposed to pay at the hospital.

“A disturbing but common practice in many developing countries is the detainment of women who have recently given birth and who cannot afford their hospital charges.

“Contrary to policies aimed at encouraging women to deliver in health facilities, this practice is an abuse of their rights and has implications for wider maternal and neonatal health,” reported researchers Delan Devakumar and Rob Yates, June 2016.

Narrating what transpired, Okore said that although she had her babies without complications except that they were born prematurely.

It was learned that one of the babies died after, due to lack of incubator in the hospital to keep the children warm.

She appealed to government to assist redeem her of the hospital cost since her husband was a roadside trader with modicum income.

Okore later gave out her bank details, soliciting for financial help from the general public.

Many Nigerian mothers undergo the same fate as Okore’s. On October 28 2015, a similar occurrence occurred to a 23yr old B. Godwin, from Eket L.G.A in Akwa Ibom State.

When she was admitted in the labour room on that day at about 6pm, little did she know that she would be delayed by parturition, hence the suggestion by the hospital that she be transferred to an upgraded hospital.

The VOC News could testify that Godwin recounted her puzzlement at Ilasamaja health center, saying, “I was stranded because there was no cash on me.

“My husband and I stayed from 11pm to 4:30 am the following morning, before we could get assistance to take us to Isolo General Hospital.”

She was not saved at the Isolo General Hospital, either. With fear narrated by a nurse on duty that her unborn baby might die in her womb if she delayed, she was moved to Mater Christi: A specialist hospital located at 8, Bishop Okogie Street, off Ago palace way, Balogun B/stop Okota Lagos.

Instead of the baby would die, a Caesarian was performed. An outstanding bill of N150, 000 was given her out of which the husband was able to pay N50, 000.

“As a result of the inability to pay up the complete bill, the poor woman has been detained by the hospital management for the past 2-weeks, because she and husband could not afford to pay the outstanding hospital bill,” the source educated.

Like Okore gave out her bank details for public assistance, Godwin did not shy away to do the same.

Corruption At Government Hospitals

While private hospitals charge exorbitant bills, the government hospitals that charge subsidised rates for their services, including antenatal treatment, was observed not to pay women the urgent attention they needed.

“If you want quick service, you have to part with N200 and another N100 for urine sample, which are compulsorily charged on every visiting day for the antenatal patients.

“If you don’t pay this extra charge for urine, then it’s as good as you did not come,” one pregnant woman at a government hospital, told newsmen.

Women Die Giving Birth

Many mothers and their babies have given up the ghost in the harsh birthing environment in Nigeria.

A study of The Pan African Medical Journal attributed “Nigeria still remains a major contributor to under-five mortality, contributing about 13 per cent, 9.4 per cent and 14 per cent of global under-five, neonatal and maternal deaths respectively.”

A pregnant mother of three, died at a private hospital in Onitsha, during delivery on April 27 2015.

Her relatives, who upon admitting her to the hospital, went to source for elusive funds on the permission of the doctor, took her corpse to the hospital’s morgue, but hadn’t N70, 000 to pay as mortuary bill, therefore they returned the corpse to the doctor.

In December 28, 2014, a 44-year old printer recounted before journalists with International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), of how he lost his wife, F. Oduyoye, 35, in the course of putting to bed and how he paid through his nostrils.

He attributed her death to over-priced health services of the Lagos University, teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi- Araba, known as one of Nigeria’s foremost teaching hospitals.

Patients Pay For Drugs/Services Yet Given Mountainous Bills

His problem started on getting to LUTH, 7th of September, 2014, and his wife was in Accident and Emergency for three days.

“They said there were no beds, but that they will take us to the Intensive Care Unit, ICU,” the aggrieved man said.

He added that he spent N230, 000 to do X-ray, for drugs, scan and treatment on that particular day. And after donating nine pints of blood, the hospital collected N54, 000, and told him that the money was for the screening of the blood.

When hope seemed to be dwindling, the hospital’s authorities moved Folake to the theatre to operate on her on Wednesday, September 10 2014.

The man was told that the wife had infection; and after the operation, N135, 000 was charged, he paid another N250, 000 cash for ICU.

After the operation and the initial payment, N70, 000 was demanded from him again. It was noted that he paid N15, 000 every day, apart from N1, 500 for meal ticket he paid every day to the kitchen.

When Folake was discharged from the female ward on October 31, 2014, where she was later moved to, however, not discharged to go home, N1, 382, 700 was outstanding bill that he had to offset.

The hospital officials had to lock Folake in a ward until he could pay her outstanding bills.

“He had spent almost N2 million before the new bill came, meaning that he was charged a total of N3, 382, 700.

“The agitated husband’s anxiety heightened two weeks after his wife’s detention in the hospital when she developed cough and her health began to deteriorate.

“He alleged that even as she was being forced to remain in the hospital against her will, when Folake progressively got worse, the hospital refused to treat her, with the excuse that she had been discharged,” Abiose Adelaja Adams of ICIR reported.

“They killed my wife. The management of LUTH,” the bereaved man yelled, throwing his two hands in the air, while narrating his story. “They value money more than life.”

Detained For More Than 6 Months

After delivery, many mothers and their babies who were unable to afford their hospital bills, stayed for nearly 6 months or more, before reprieve could come their way through politicians looking for public stunt, or through amiable persons in the society.

A 23-year-old single mother whose name was given as A. Amadi that gave birth in Umuahia, the capital of Abia State, was in hospital by July this year, four months after she gave birth.

“While the mother and her daughter are in good health, they are not allowed to leave the public hospital until Amadi settles the N543, 000 ($1,900) bill for their care,” reported News Agency International.

The sarcasm was that Amadi who cried out that she had really suffered and they did not allow her to go out, eked a living “selling stones to construction workers for 40 naira ($0.15) per sack, and fears she may never be able to clear her debt – leaving her and her baby trapped in the Umuahia Federal Medical Centre (FMC) for the foreseeable future.”

One of the nurses who claimed anonymity hued of how mothers and their babies were treated, saying, “Sometimes, we place all the babies on one bed while the mothers sleep in chairs. Some babies have stayed here until they started crawling.”

Increment In Antenatal Cost

On 27 September 2015, the editors highlighted on antenatal fee in Lagos hospitals, where the government increased the cost of medical treatment, equipment and personnel fees to N18, 000 from what it used to be.

“But the need to make the citizens, especially the poor, have access to antenatal services should be the prime consideration in the review of the fee.

“Already, most of the pregnant women who use public hospitals are complaining that the new fee is too much for them.

“With the increase, most of these women who cannot afford private hospitals would be shut out of care as most are not gainfully employed,” said the editors.

Resort To Putting To Bed At Home

In spite of efforts to encourage pregnant women to seek help in the hospital, some of them wouldn’t, because of what they go through, as a result of precipitous hospital bills.

“In spite of efforts by the Federal Government and Kaduna State Government to ensure that all pregnant women dutifully attend antenatal care as well as deliver their babies in hospitals under the close supervision of well trained health workers, many women in the state still deliver at home,” exclaimed Christiana T. Alabi, a journalist based in Kaduna.

Doctors Arrested

Some doctors have been either arrested or taken to court for detaining mothers in their hospitals.

This was the fate of Dr. O. Afolabi, medical director of Afolabi Hospital, located at 78, Oworo Road, Oworonsoki in Bariga Local Council Development Area of Lagos, which was uncovered for detaining mothers and their babies by officials of the Lagos State Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, WAPA, in collaboration with the Office of the Public Defender, after a tip off.

P.M. News informed that on December 2, 2013, seven nursing mothers and their babies who could not pay the hilly bills the hospital gave them were rescued from the hospital by the government officials.

Afolabi, who delivered women of their babies through caesarian operation for a minimum of N150, 000 or more depending on their cases, was arrested by the Task Force and later released on bail after writing a statement, the source added.

People/Government Don’t Know Their Rights

“This is happening because people don’t know their rights or where to go when such happened,” the then Director, Office of the Public Defender, Mrs. Rotimi Omotola said; but the arrest may not deter unruly doctors from the practice.

“Criminal charges will be filed against the owner of the hospital if he is found guilty in the course of our investigation,” the source added.

Mary Kimani from Africa Renewal, said that mothers are experiencing this because government at all levels has refused to overcome the decline in government financing hospitals, therefore many hospitals and clinics began asking patients to pay more for services.

“The government also needs to extend the National Health Insurance Scheme so it goes to the grassroots,” experts have said. “Only government workers and some private workers are entitled to it.”

Odimegwu Onwumere is award-winning journalist based in Rivers State. Tel: +2348057778358. Email: odimegwu@journalist.com

Rape of men: Under-reported sexual abuse

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Male rape cases have not graced the headlines they are supposed to in the media due to the male victims hardly discuss their ordeal in the hands of their male or female rapists.

This is because of religious and cultural backgrounds that see such act as a taboo.

But whether the male rape victims who are majority young boys talk about it or not, male in Nigeria are being raped by either their fellow men or women on a daily basis.

{Raped by girls picture online}
{Raped by girls picture online}

In April 2016, a man whose name was given as S. Ude, 35, from Amuzu community, Amasiri, Afikpo North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, was reportedly arrested for raping a ten year old boy, V. Agha.

Ude lured the later to join him to farm, where he carried out the act. Police spokesman, ASP George Okafor in the area, confirmed the scene to newsmen.

Okafor said that the suspect had been arrested, after Agha’s testimony to the father that Ude raped him through the anus.

“By the time we conclude with the necessary investigation, get the medical report together as well as other necessary facts, we will send the suspect to court and ensure that the law takes it course,” the police source told newsmen.

Nigerians stood still on February 23, 2016, when Lagos State Police Command announced that they have arrested a 34-year-old trader, Mallam Isiaka, for supposedly raping a nine-year-old boy in the Iju part of the state.

Christopher was given as the name of Mallam Isiaka’s rape victim. He was a primary 1 pupil, living with the parents on Coker Alhaja Street, Old Akute Road, Iju.

Christopher ostensibly said that he was raped through the anus by his victimizer, Isiaka, who was popularly called Mallam, a roadside trader adjacent to where the boy was living.

Mr. O. Aluko, a Nigerian journalist, informed, “The boy said Mallam had been raping him in his shop anytime he ran errands for his parents and warned him that if he opened up to his mother, he was going to die.”

Mallam apparently took the advantage that the parents of Christopher sent Christopher on errand to his shop to buy domestic items like sugar, milk and biscuits, and raped him.

There was a similar incident in Benin City Edo State in the first quarter of the year. This time, the rape did not involve just one person. Over 10 boys were seemingly kidnapped by young gay Nigerian couple and kept as the couple’s sex toy.

“Two young men (couple) were apprehended and beaten up by a vigilante group in Benin City, Edo State after it was discovered that they allegedly kidnapped young boys aged between 10-15 years and forcefully had anal sex with them in their hideout,” reported a source that claimed anonymity.

Some of the kidnapped told their rescuers that they were living in faraway Lagos, a journey of about 6 hours to Edo State, when they were kidnapped and taken away to become sex toy.

There was the story in 2015 of a commercial motorcyclist who was chartered by some ladies at the dusk of the day and was later raped in the nearby bush and abandoned to his fate.

“Earlier this year, 2015, an incident happened in Ilorin, Kwara State. Two young ladies approached an Okada man and asked him to take them to a remote part of town.

“It was already late, so the man initially refused to carry them through that bushy part. But he later agreed after the two promised to pay him N1, 000,” reported naij.com, an online news platform.

The source added that on their way, one of the ladies suddenly asked him to make a stop. But as soon as he parked his motorcycle, “one of the ladies slapped him from behind, and, before he knew what was going on, they had overpowered him and tied him up with a rope. They then dragged him into the bush, tore his trousers and raped him repeatedly before they finally left him there and left.”

Cases of male rape abound in the country. There was the High School girls’ episode; they cornered a boy in their school and commandeered him to lick their clitorises with his tongue.

“Three girls are seen in a video closing the classroom’s door as one of them sits on a locker spreading her legs wide open than the doors of hell.

“The friends then pushed the boy who was sitting on the chair dip into their friend’s thighs to put him in an apt angle for a CJ.

“The thirsty girl then quickly pulls down her underpants and grabs the boy’s head immersing it in her private parts,” according to a post on social media.

The police in Benin in January 2014, arrested and paraded a 33-year, J. Olise, who allegedly raped five boys aged between 10 and 15, and later blamed his action on the girlfriend whom he said left him, thereby making him vulnerable for the act.

Olise, who was said to be residing at room 20, Evbodaghe Street, Eyean in Benin City and had been paraded alongside 59 other suspected criminals at the Edo Police Command Headquarters in Benin City, said, “I don’t know what came over me. It all started when my girlfriend left me and broke my heart, so I wanted to stay away from all women.”

The then State Police Commissioner Foluso Adebanjo, who paraded them, therefore, warned against criminal acts.

In February 2015, a 34-year-old alleged gay identified as O. Obunike was wanted by the police of the Lagos State Area M Police Command for apparently raping a school teacher’s son, 17-year-old B. Akinjide, who happened to be his neighbour, in the Ago Palace Way, Okota area of Lagos state.

The father of the victim, S. Akinjide, who’s a teacher by profession, divulged to media men that the bad omen actually took place in September 2014.

“We have since reported the young man to the police. With the help of the Police, we have since checked his house and shop and he hasn’t been found. We hope the Police would do a thorough job on this case and punish him for such an unlawful act,” the source said.

Reacting to the incident, the State Police Spokesman, DSP Kenneth Nwosu, then, “Maintained that gay practice is against the law in the nation and anyone caught in the act would be severely punished. He added that his men were on the trail to arrest the accused and bring him to book.”

In July 2012, a man whose name was given as U. Onoja was reported to have been raped by six women in a village called Ugbugbu Owukpa in the Ogbadibo local government area of Benue State.

“This is just one of the numerous cases of male rape that are not usually taken seriously in Nigeria and in the world.

“Just as women and girls should be protected against rape and abuse, men and boys should also be protected, in-line with gender justice and fairness,” reported naij.com.

Initially, story of rape was associated to boys raping girls, but the reverse has become the case in the country. Cases of young boys used as sex toy, ranging from rape to defilement and even for pornography, abound in Nigeria.

“Rape is a monster which should be stamped out of every civilized society. Whether it is female or male rape, it is an evil act that should be punished duly,” the source added.

Many Nigerians have cried out that it was unheard of men raping their fellow men, let alone, women raping men say a decade ago. But this is a reality that has confronted the country.

Many of the male victims either commit suicide later or live to feel humiliated due to the patriarchal nature of Nigeria as captured in a Gilia Banks’ commentary titled – Masculinity in Nigeria: Rebellion vs. Conformity and Power.

“Masculinity is the only way of living for both the young and old men of Nigeria. Fathers drill it into their sons and society will reinforce these guidelines to further instill them into every little boy’s way of living. It starts young and they receive training to be the best, as they get older,” Gilia Banks said.

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: odimegwu@journalist.com