Nigeria’s population explodes – food, energy, water, infrastructure declining

Odimegwu Onwumere writes that health challenges among Nigerians are increasing as the growth in population is increasing. The report expresses concern by the prediction of experts saying that by 2050, Nigeria’s population would skyrocket and poverty would increase, hence authorities should be mindful

Professor Oladapo Ladipo, the Chief Executive Officer, Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH), showed illustrious trepidation at the fourth Nigeria’s family planning conference held in Abuja, November 7 2016, of what the survival of Nigerians would be in 24 years, given that the country is already finding it difficult to manage its about 188 million population.

Buhari and Obama

Without a doubt, Nigeria is habitually increasing in population and there are indices that the country will outnumber the United States of America (USA) by 30 million people by 2050. Prof. Ladipo feared, “We have a population policy that currently encourages four children per couple. I think that policy needs to be revisited by government and we all sit down together to do what is rational. I will not support legislation. Family planning should be free. It is by choice. But everybody should recognise that everyone has the right to family planning.”

The unchecked population has already become a big problem for Nigeria, with the United Nations documented estimate in March 22 2016, saying that Nigeria is 186 million in population. “Nigeria ranks number seven in the world and a population that is equivalent to 2.48 per cent of the global total,” said the source.

Worried by the customary population increase in the country, on July 16, 2016, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at an event hosted by the President of Ghana, Mr. John Mahama, on Africa and Sustainable Development Goals on the tangential of the African Union meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, said that about 110 million Nigerians are living in poverty.

Ikenna Asomba, a Nigerian Journalist on August 27, 2015, reported, “Recall that the Central Bank of Nigeria in June 2015, brought to the front burner the issue of youth unemployment in the country, stating that 80 per cent of Nigerian youths are without jobs, and disclosed that unemployment remains a severe threat to Nigeria’s economy.” Professor Ladipo expressed disquiet over the population policy of the country that gives a nod to four children per couple and wanted the policy to be revisited.

“Currently, poverty is endemic in this country. And, there are many people in this country whose legacy for their children is poverty. Those that we train in this country are looking for greener pasture because the local environment is not conducive. In other words, we are exporting our greatest resource because the environment is not conducive for them to stay. This is a negative thing to the nation,” Professor Ladipo lamented.

A Country Director of DKT International Nigeria, Mr. Dimos Sakellaridis had in 2014, while addressing newsmen in Lagos, screamed of the population that the country is experiencing today. The Population Reference Bureau (PRB), a Washington-based population, health, and environment organisation harangued in its PRB August 2015 Data Sheet that Nigeria would topple Indonesia to occupy the No. 4 on the index of most populated countries in the world.

According to the report, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia would respectively replace Russia and Mexico in the No. 9 and No. 10 population spots by 2050. The data showed that Nigeria was No. 7 with a predictable 182 million people, and would have 397 million people by that year.

Speaking in 2014, Sakellaridis said, “Nigeria currently has an estimated population of 174 million people and with the current growth rate, the population will be 450 million by 2050. A major concern about this rapidly growing population is the fact that jobs, national infrastructures, social services, housing, health care facilities are not also growing at an equally comparable rate or at a faster rate like her population growth rate does.”

Sakellaridis added, saying, “Growth in population well researched statistics by experts shows that by 2040, Nigeria’s population growth would have been quadrupled and without commensurate amenities and employment to sustain it; it would not augur well.”

Sakellaridis was shouting above voice that the country’s population would quadruplet if urgent needs are not put in place to checkmate the leap. The professional’s fears were that the pervasiveness of HIV and other forms of STDs were leading to unsystematic procreation of babies. This was due to unshielded sex, which could lead to many types of social problems that do not favour mankind.

“The reason is because poverty would have increased and there wouldn’t be enough work and food to go round. On the other hand, if people lived well, there wouldn’t be insurgence because poverty which drives people to extremes would be greatly reduced,” Sakellaridis said.

Dr. Aisha Mahmood, a Special Assistant on Sustainable Banking, CBN, while delivering a paper on Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principle during the 2014 World Environment Day programme, organised by the Federal Ministry of Environment in Abuja, said, “As the population is growing, the resources that we all depend on, the food, energy, water, is declining. The demand for these resources will rise exponentially by the year 2030, with the world needing about 50 per cent more food, 45 per cent more energy and 30 per cent more water.

“In Nigeria, there is the issue of youth and employment. 70 per cent of the 80 million youths in Nigeria are either unemployed or underemployed. We are all witness to what happened recently during the immigration recruitment exercise and this is simply because 80 per cent of the Nigerian youth are unemployed.”

Niran Adedokun, a public affairs analyst, on August 25, 2016, said, “Yet, Nigeria makes no attempt to check population growth. We just live for the now without sparing much thought for the future of the country. As China, India and even Ghana attempted at some point in their history, one would expect that Nigeria would, by itself, take control of its destiny and create a measure of population control to avoid an explosion and entrench a poverty trap.”

Tagged the National Policy on Population for Development, Unity, Progress and Self Reliance, the Federal government introduced its first policy on population in 1988, with the aim to, “Reduce the proportion of women who bear more than 4 children by 80 % by 2000, reduce Infant Mortality Rate to 50 per 1000 live birth by 1995 and 30 per 1000 live birth by the year 2000.

“Reduce the number of pregnancy to women below the age of 18 and above the age of 35 years by 50 % by 1995 and by 90% by the year 2000, make Family Planning services available to 50 % of women of child bearing age by 1995 and 80 % by year 2000, reduce rate of population growth from 3.3 to 2.5 % by 1995 and 2 % in the year 2000, provide suitable Family Life Education, Family Planning Information and Services to all adolescents by the year 2000.”

Yet, Nigeria is a country with a population problem. She does not know how to go about it. There are indications that many children are out of school and the masses are suffering untoward unemployment and health problems. It is however evidence that the country is not sincerely making quality case to arrest its population explosion and the problems it is generating.

Odimegwu Onwumere writes from Rivers State. He can be contacted via: apoet_25@yahoo.com

Media Violence Against Women

In this report, Odimegwu Onwumere writes that there is a new form of violence against women through the media and calls on the general public to respect the right to dignity of the human person

Violence against women is gradually assuming a new form through the media. As the watchdog of the society, the media which have been playing a role in sensitizing the wide-ranging masses on the need to stop the violence against women, are at the same time meting out enormous treaties of violence against women through publishing pictures of the raped or battered women and other contraventions of privacy of women, knowing how sensational they are.

{senator Aisha Alhassan; Minister, Women Affairs And Social Development}
{senator Aisha Alhassan; Minister, Women Affairs And Social Development}

On September 28 2006 an Amy Jussel, a public affairs commentator published an article with the title – Media has a role to play in curbing violence against girls. In that treatise, the irked Jussel admonished as a matter of urgency that the media have to stop “glamorizing, romanticizing and sexualizing content under the auspices of violence prevention!”

Online Violence

Researcher A. N Nwammuo, writing on – Social Media and Perpetuation of Violence against Women in Nigeria: The Case of Facing Death on Facebook – said that clowns and criminals have invaded the internet and the World Wide Web negatively, causing problematic pains to the women world.

“Social media forms, due to their high interactivity, are used to perpetuate violence against women… The case of Cynthia Osukogu provides basis for this assertion,” said A.N Nwammuo.

Jussel went further, “We need to recognize that mass media is critical in communicating a responsible voice to curb violence against girls and women. As it is, hyper-sexualized environs have created a minefield that even young K-5 elementary girls are faced with dodging daily.”

One Kamala Sarup, writing on the topic – Violence Against Women And Role Of Media (Thursday, 13 January 2005) – commended some journalists, but added, “Although some in the media are to be commended for their ongoing efforts to reflect sensitive, diverse, and egalitarian images, others in the media still incorporate images that convey destructive messages. Still women’s bodies are used as objects to sell products.”

Lack Of Privacy, Security and Safety

Over the years, violence against women has taken novel forms. There have been videos of abused ladies posted online or through other means of technology. Many women have been killed through contacts they made online while using the internet or phones.

On 19 November 2010, Inter Press Service (IPS), South Africa, reported, “As more and more women go online using computers and mobile phones, many are silenced through acts of violence, sexism and censorship.

“In most cases women do not know what to do to protect themselves against such violations. Nor are there adequate measures adopted by telecommunications companies, internet service providers and software developers to protect users’ privacy, security and safety.”

Nwammuo intoned, “Violence against women through facebook manifests in many forms ranging from the use of words, photographs and physical injury resulting to the death of many women… Such violence has led to emotional, psychological and physical torture of Nigerian women.”

The IPS source said that in their bid to look into gender based violence, ICTs and the role of media, Association for Progressive Communications (APC) Women and Inter Press Service (IPS) Africa hosted a media discussion on November 17 2010, tagged – Click Against Violence: Taking 16 Days of Activism Online.

“Both ICT and VAW affect our capacity to completely enjoy our human rights and fundamental freedoms. Women and girls are increasingly experiencing violence when using the internet and mobile phones,” said Jan Moolman from APC Women’s Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP) who spoke about ‘Protecting Women’s Rights Online’.

Further, Jan Moolman, said, “Acts of violence against women in the real world are replicated online, including cyber stalking, cyber bullying, surveillance and other acts that violate women’s safety and privacy. ICTs are changing the ways in which women experience and respond to violence.”

Politicized Violence

According to the source, “Pratyoush Onta stated in his report: The mainstream media is very much politicized and it picks up women issues according to the political interest of patron political parties.

“Due to the lack of resources and trained work force, the media is not capable to produce widely impressive materials. Some of the women issues like trafficking, prostitution and rape come in the media just to create sensation. The media seem to be less concerned about women’s issues and rights.”

Defining Violence Against Women

But defining violence against women, the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, said, “Violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women, and that violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men.

“Some groups of women, such as belonging to minority groups, indigenous women, refugee women, migrant women, women living in rural or remote communities, destitute women, women in institutions or in detention, female children, disabled women, elderly women and women in situations of armed conflict, are especially vulnerable to violence.”

Mrs. Josephine Effa Chukwuma, the Executive Director of Project Alert on Violence Against Women, a Lagos-based organisation which is about 12 years old, said early this year that violence against women is a human rights abuse.

Mrs. Effa wasn’t just mouthing, she proved that she knew what she was talking about, being a specialist of English and Literary Studies, with a Master’s degree in Development Studies obtained from The Netherlands in 1992, and concentrating on women and development and then International Law and Social Justice.

Sensitizing Society

On November 29 2016, the Educating Nigerian Girls in New Enterprise, ENGINE, a non-governmental organisation, NGO, hyped its initiative dubbed “Walk of a 1000 Men”, as part of measures to sensitize the society against some incongruous attitudes that women are treated with in the world and called for a stop to any forms of violence against women.

The Chairperson of ENGINE, Mrs. Amina Salihu was worried, saying that the scheme was bent on addressing the causative factors of gender based aggression that often result to corporal, sexual, psychosomatic, unwritten harm or torment to women and girls. Mrs. Effa said that when a woman is being beaten by her husband or kicked around, that is torture!

“And, Chapter 4, of the Constitution governing the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which focuses on fundamental human rights says, “Every Nigerian, man, woman or child, has a right to dignity of the human person, freedom from torture, etc.,” she said.

In another vein, Lakshmi Puri, an international figure at the ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly, 19 June 2013, said, “When one in three girls in developing countries is likely to be married as a child bride; when some 140 million girls and women have suffered female genital mutilation; when millions of women and girls are trafficked in modern-day slavery; and when women’s bodies are a battleground and rape is used as a tactic of war – it is time for action.”

Odimegwu Onwumere is an award-winning journalist based in Rivers State. Tel: +2348032552855. E-mail: apoet_25@yahoo.com

£6m Down The Drain: Many Lies Buhari Told On His Ear Infection

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Mallam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari in a bid to launder his paymaster’s image and perhaps save his job, said on September 19, 2016 that Mr. President spent about £50,000 as operating cost for his ear treatment in London as against £6m Prof. Farooq Kperogi at Bayero University Kano had quoted a national paper in a commentary as the cost of Buhari’s trip to London for the ear treatment.

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

“The disclosure on Prof. Farooq Kperogi’s wall that President Muhammadu Buhari’s ear treatment in the United Kingdom cost a whopping £6m must have shocked many of the respected scholar’s followers.

“I’m prepared to share documents with Farooq, one of the brightest ever produced from the Bayero University Kano that the whole treatment, including a follow-up visit by a specialist to Nigeria didn’t cost £50,000,” said the embattled Shehu.

Checks At The Presidency Had Claimed The Trip Cost £6m, Not £50, 000

Checks revealed that after Shehu made the claim, Kperogi put the records straight in a public presentation on September 24, stating as follows:

#1. “Checks at the presidency claimed that, the cost of the trip which includes aviation fuel, accommodation, allowances for aides and medical treatment amounts to about £6 million.” (Vanguard).

#2. What government needs to do is go beyond issuing a glib denial; it should bring authentic, verifiable documentary evidence that shows exactly how much was spent during the 14-day trip to London when Buhari’s ear was treated. How many aircraft in the presidential fleet were taken to London? How much did it cost to fuel them?

#3. What was the landing cost for keeping them in London for 14 days? How many aides and government officials went to London with the president? How much did their per diem (what we call “estacodes” in Nigeria) cost the national treasury? What was the cost of accommodating and feeding the coterie of aides and government officials that followed the president to London? We already know, through Mallam Garba, that the president’s medical bill was about 50,000 pounds.

#4. From my own informal observation, when you calculate the cost of the trip-fueling of the aircraft in the presidential fleet, per diem for aides and other government officials, etc. for two weeks – there is no way on earth that it wouldn’t add up to a few million pounds. No way. Now, note that Vanguard claimed to have made “checks of £6m” at the presidency, and nobody from the presidency denied it – for more than three months after the fact!

#5. But, most importantly, some people assume that just because the presidency has denied the allegation, it must be false. That’s unbelievably shallow and credulous. First, Mallam Garba Shehu’s statement (of £50, 000) merely told us the medical bill Buhari incurred for his ear treatment. It said nothing about the cost of the entire trip. Never mind that on June 8, 2016, Femi Adesina actually said “The President did not go to London for treatment.” Now we are told he spent “less than £50,000” for as his medical bill for ear treatment.

First Lies Told By Buhari About His Ear Infection

Mr. President’s aides started defending him with lies when early this year, Nigerians clamoured that he had ear impairment known in the medical term as “Meniere’s Disease’’.

Within the period instead of the mystified Buhari would accept his ear infection reality, he rather confined himself to the State House and canceled three official occasions in which he was represented by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.

Osibanjo represented Buhari in Papua New Guinea where the 8th Summit of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States held. Also, at the 48th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which held in Dakar, Senegal, Buhari was represented by Osibanjo. Buhari also canceled his trip to Lagos State to launch some projects accomplished by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of the state.

Later, on June 5, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, told Nigerians that the president would on that day, proceed on a 10‎-day leave, which he would spend in London.

“During the holiday, he will see an E.N.T. specialist ‎for a persistent ear infection,” he said, explaining: “The president was examined by his Personal Physician and an E.N.T. Specialist in Abuja and was treated. Both Nigerian doctors recommended further evaluation purely as a precaution.”

Needless Medical Trip Abroad

When the All Progressives Congress (APC) produced Buhari as president in the 2015 presidential election, the party accused the then Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of squandering the country’s resources in overseas treatment of its stakeholders. But the APC sent shame to the winds and sent Buhari on abroad medical trip, something the APC had used against the PDP.

Instantaneously that Buhari confirmed his ear problem as a reality and was set to travel overseas, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, Vice President, Commonwealth Medical Association (CMA) and former President, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), told the media that the trip was a shame on the nation (despite the presence of over 250 ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists in the country and a National Ear Centre in Kaduna State), given that Enabulele had undergone surgical operation for his ear infection in Nigeria, this year, and it was successful.

“I am very constrained to state that this foreign medical trip flies in the face of the federal government’s earlier declaration of her resolve to halt the embarrassing phenomenon of outward medical tourism, which by the end of the year 2013, has led to a humongous capital flight of about $1 billion, particularly from expenses incurred by political and public office holders and their accompanying aides, whose foreign medical trips, most of which are unnecessary, were financed with tax payers’ resources,” Enabulele contended in an open letter to the president.

The medical expert gave an instance why Buhari should have treated himself in Nigeria, saying, “If the former Governor of Kogi State, Idris Wada, could patronize Nigerian-trained medical experts and medical facilities here in Nigeria when he unfortunately suffered a fractured femur following a road traffic accident in 2013, I see no reason why in 2016, Mr. President could not have stayed back in Nigeria to attend to his ear infection.”

Nigerian doctors had recommended extra assessment of Mr. President’s ailment simply as a precaution, but did not recommend foreign trip. “Just for an ear infection Nigeria’s president travels all the way to London to get expert treatment and a second opinion. Shame on Nigeria! And this ear infection explains all the loud cries and groans of the common people suffering from their day to day challenges,” said a public affairs commentator.

Conclusion: Buhari Would’ve Stayed Back In Nigeria; Claim He Spent £50,000 as False

According to media reports, “The medical expert claimed that most public and political office holders who seek foreign medical care are treated by Nigerian-trained doctors, particularly in the United Kingdom, which has over 3000 Nigerian-trained medical doctors, and the United States of America, with over 5000.

“Most of these foreign-based doctors, Mr. Enabulele added, relocated abroad because of the government’s repeated failure to address the various factors that make the local environment difficult to work in.” Adding, Dr. Enabulele said that if he was in the Buhari aides’ shoes, he would have advised Mr. President to stay back in Nigeria and explore any of the following options.

  1. Urgently invite a consortium of Nigerian trained ENT specialists in Nigeria to Abuja to re-evaluate and treat Mr. President; or,
  2. if it is determined that the medical expertise is not available in Nigeria (and I doubt this), any identified Nigerian trained ENT specialist practicing anywhere in the world should be invited to Abuja, Nigeria, for the sole purpose of re-evaluating and treating Mr. President; or,
  3. if it is a case where the health facilities/equipment are unavailable (and this is a possibility) then Mr. President should have used his current medical situation, though unfortunate, to commence the Federal Government’s plan to re-equip Nigerian hospitals with modern state-of-the art health facilities, by ordering for the needed medical equipment to enable the locally available Nigerian trained ENT specialists to attend to him, and thereafter use same facilities to attend to other Nigerians with similar conditions.

Finally, Prof. Kperogi added, “Can anybody in good conscience defend the action of a president who allocated N4 billion to Aso Rock Clinic (which is more than the budget of all Nigerian teaching hospitals combined) but goes abroad to treat an ear infection less than a month after he banned government officials from traveling abroad for medical treatment? Let’s not allow our emotions to get the better of our judgment! Only unreflective Buhari apologists assume the falsity of the Vanguard report (of £6m), without any shred of contrary evidence other than a facile, reactive denial.”

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

Wasting Insane Youths in the Streets

In this report, Odimegwu Onwumere writes that a compassionate Nigerian rescued an insane young lady from the Abuja streets recently and admitted her to a hospital; while the Nigerian winks that many of the lady’s ilks are abandoned to their fate in the streets

If not for Dr. Ray Ugba Morphy, a media expert from Cross River State based in Abuja, the anonymous insane lady in her middle 20s would have wandered the streets of Abuja without succour coming her way, at least soon. On November 28, 2016, by 5pm, at the ECOWAS building, Asokoro, Abuja, Morphy saw the scintillating beauty laced in ebony black, walking and talking to herself, and decided to help her.

In a disclosure to this writer, Morphy was compassionately curious to know what was the matter with the lady who was actually dirty, but not in shreds, with a look suggesting that she needed help, but was not articulated to seek for the help that was written on her face.

{The Lady Rescued By Morphy In The Hospital}
{The Lady Rescued By Morphy In The Hospital}

“In the girl, I saw a soul crying for help. She could be my sister, your sister or even anyone’s daughter. So I approached her. She spoke well, an evidence of good breeding. But, then, after being initially friendly, she became very hostile when I began to probe her,” Morphy narrated.

Morphy’s objective to approach the lady was borne out of his humanitarian gesture to save the downtrodden in the society. He was eager to know if he could reach out to the lady’s people, but the lady had loss of memory of who her people were or where she was coming from. When Morphy prodded her further, he could not get a tangible result. “All she would say is that she is from London and her name is Chika,” the puzzled Morphy said.

When he could not gain the records of her, he decided to leave her alone, because it was already late. The following the day, Morphy who had great enthusiasm to save the lady, sent out his team of workers to the Asokoro to look out for the lady while he went online to surf for best psychiatric hospitals.

“As my workers went in search for her in the street, I went online in search of a psychiatric hospital or unit. Luckily after physical visits to all government hospitals in Abuja, we finally found one at Karu,” the bemused Morphy said, adding that it took his workers up till 4pm before they found the lady, a journey they started in the morning.

“Meanwhile those searching the streets for her could only locate her at about 4pm in the evening being that she is mobile and ambulatory,” the baffled Morphy said. “To cut a long story short, I can now report that the lady is now safely admitted in a psychiatric hospital with me registered as her next of kin.”

Morphy showed the lady’s picture and was stunned that the gorgeous lady would have wasted in the street from a treatable mental health she had. “She is simply suffering from treatable mental illness and no one should be abandoned the way our society seems to abandon the mentally ill. Sure, it cost me time and money, but it is worth every bit of it,” the fulfilled Morphy said.

Contact with her family
Dr. Morphy did not just relax after signing as next-of-kin for the lady; he was bent on making sure that the family of the lady was located. On December 1, 2016, Morphy whispered that the lady’s mother was contacted, but she lives outside Abuja and was expected to arrive Abuja as soon as possible.

“It was the wide sharing of the lady’s picture on the social media that enabled someone to see the picture and then reached her mother,” Morphy informed. “However, she will be handed over to her people only when the doctors certify her fit.”

Many youths getting insane
The lady is one among millions of Nigerians, youths especially, suffering from mental illnesses that are abandoned in the streets. They go uncared for, drink and eat from dirt. Some are tagged witches and wizards and what not.

During the 2015 World Mental Health Day celebration in Rivers State, mental health specialists at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) Neuro-psychiatric Hospital, Dr. Chidozie Chukujeku and Dr. Nkpobu Kennedy raised eyebrows at the rate with which young people were going insane.

Some professionals are worried that many of the youths are into drugs especially those of the tertiary institute. Yakubu Kibo, a senior personnel fighting against illicit trade and use of drugs said, “Our records show that most of the mentally-ill persons in the state are young people who happen to be involved in abuse of illicit drugs.”

Some authorities feared that some youths involve in terrorism activities like suicide bombing due to the imbalance state of their mental. “75% of suicides occur in low and middle-income countries. Mental disorders and harmful use of alcohol contribute to many suicides around the world,” said a source.

Beliefs associated to mental health
Medical specialists are perplexed about the misunderstandings and stigmas attached to mental ill health in the country. “Despite the existence of effective treatments for mental disorders, there is a belief that they are untreatable or that people with mental disorders are difficult, not intelligent, or incapable of making decisions,” said a source.

The source added, “This stigma can lead to abuse, rejection and isolation and exclude people from healthcare or support. Within the health system, people are too often treated in institutions which resemble human warehouses rather than places of healing.”

In 2015, Medical Director of the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital (FNH), Yaba, Lagos, Rahman Lawal showed apprehension that 21 million Nigerians suffered from mental illnesses, among whom were youths. Prof. Oye Guruje, a psychiatrist with University of Ibadan, in a public presentation said that insanity outweighs the HIV/AIDs encumbrance.

“Mental illness is one of the major contributors to disease burden globally. It is the sixth largest burden worldwide and this is much more burdensome than HIV. In Nigeria, one out of seven persons will have serious mental illnesses, while one in four persons will have some form of mental disorder. And this is a conservative estimate,” Guruje said.

Factors contributing to insanity
Checks, however, revealed that while some of the youths are taken to the hospitals, the medical experts are paid peanuts for their services by the government. They do not even receive the peanuts for months.

Evidence is that many of the youths do not take such drugs like codeine, tramadol, cocaine, hashish and others before they go berserk, but work pressure. This was found in a research conducted by connoisseurs.

“The majority of 18-year-olds we spoke to were endeavouring to find jobs and committed to the idea of work, although they are perhaps hampered by a lack of skills that would serve them well in the job market.

“Compared to their peers, NEET young people are also contending with substantial mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse and aggression control,” said Professor Terrie Moffitt, co-author of the study from the IoPPN at King’s College London.

Out of the conundrum
There was a decision by psychiatric nurses in the country begging the National Assembly to pass Mental Health Bill. The Association of Psychiatric Nurses of Nigeria, Neuropsychiatric Hospital unit, Aro in Abeokuta, on October 10, 2016, said this through a mental health activist and consultant psychiatrist, Dr. Oluseun Ogunnubi at a seminar organised by the association to memorialise the 2016 World Mental Health Day in Abeokuta.

{Dr. Raymond Ugba Ikemefuna Morphy}
{Dr. Raymond Ugba Ikemefuna Morphy}

Dr. Oyewole Adeoye, the National Coordinator of Mental Health Awareness Foundation of Nigeria, thought that mental health policies should help to arrest the challenging situation. “There is an increased incidence of mental illnesses in Nigeria and the society is yet to take full control of the fact. Mental disorder is associated with societal vices, socio-economic pressures, emotional problems and political injustice like terrorism,” said Adeoye.

Odimegwu Onwumere is an award-winning journalist based in Rivers State. Tel: +2348032552855. E-mail: apoet_25@yahoo.com

Government’s Role in Cancer Multiplication

Odimegwu Onwumere writes that the inability of the government to refurbish medical centres with modern radiotherapy machines has led to many cancer patients squirm their teeth in anguish while others have died

{Minister for Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole}
{Minister for Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole}

Derisory attendance of government in the equipment of laboratories in the country has been fingered as part of the major causes of the rise in cancer cases in the recent times.

“Thousands of cancer patients are currently facing death nationwide, following a breakdown of all the radiotherapy machines at treatment centres in the country,” reported by the media in September.

They whispered that contemporary cancer machines use a single amount of extremely watchful radiation, intended to obliterate only the tumour and not other areas of the body not affected by the disease.

“The expected lifespan of a linear accelerator is 10 years, and older machines are considered outdated and incapable of delivering modern radiotherapy techniques linked to better patient outcomes,” they said.

A consultant Paediatric Haematologist and Oncologist, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Prof. Edamisan Temiye in an interview with a national broadsheet accused the government of its incapacitation to give the country constant electricity light as the major reason the ‘superseded’ machines continue to breakdown.

“The second thing we need to do is to tackle electricity problems. Like the ones we have in LUTH and other centres, you are not supposed to shut them down. They are supposed to work for 24 hours.

“Once you shut them down and restart you are causing problems for them. So electricity supply is a big issue. If we can get good electricity supply and then good maintenance, it will reduce failure of treatments and improve outcomes as well as increase survival rates in the country,” Temiye said.

Temiye was angry that the government had no justifiable reason to give one radiotherapy machine to one government hospital in the first place. “A serious hospital should at least have two or three machines so that when you relieve one and you maintain it, the other one would be in operation. When it is only one machine that continues to work for a long time, it will break down and the cost of repair is high,” Temiye said.

The expression of shock by the media was that hardly is there any new cancer machines at the centres “such as The Gamma Knife machines fit for the 21st Century so that Nigerians can have access to the latest advanced radiotherapy techniques that target the cancer and cause less damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

“The development, which has persisted for years, has become unmanageable in the last few weeks as a result of alarm raised by patients and their relatives who throng the centres daily,” the source said.

At the Federal University of Technology of Minna, (FUT), Niger State, in October, the once unruffled hall turned agitated on hearing that cancer has exterminated some lecturers of the institute in a lecture with theme – early detection and timely management of cancer: solution to graceful aging – delivered by the wife of Niger State Governor and founder of Raise Foundation, Dr. Amina Abubakar Sani Bello at the institute. In the highlight of that, there’s the apprehension that cancer deaths among women will rise by 2030 to 60 per cent especially breast cancer, even as there has been a warning that women with numerous sex partners are elevated threat of cervical cancer

The American Cancer Society and Lancet Studies made this known on November 1, 2016, at the World Cancer Congress in Paris, saying that the cancer upsurge will be widespread among women in poor and middle-income countries like Zimbabwe, Malawi, Kenya, Mongolia and Papua New Guinea having the uppermost death rates. Other countries in Africa like Nigeria were not excluded. Globally, an estimated number of 5.5 million women are going to have cancer by 2030. A number, authorities have said, is greater than the population of Denmark. Records show that some 80 percent of cancer patients do not make it out of the percentage that is victim. The reason has not been unconnected to breakdown of order in the management of cancer related cases in Nigeria.

According to a source, “Experts gathered that the cancer machines at the National Hospital Abuja, NHA, Lagos University Teaching Hospitals, LUTH, University College Hospital, UCH, Ibadan, including others in health institutions in Gombe, Enugu, Benin, Sokoto among others, have been breaking down frequently due to wear and tear and lack of maintenance.”

Why Nigeria has not buckled up to arrest cancer still baffles opinion leaders given that millions of naira have been pumped into the fight against cancer. In many hospitals, patients have complained about poor attitudes of medical practitioners towards them in the course of medical checks, apart from the deafening shallow state of hospitals in the country. There had been upgraded hospitals, like the ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo did in 2003, by making 14 Federal Teaching hospitals across the country to attain the state-of-the-art medical paraphernalia, which he buzzed out with N29 billion VAMED project, but they went back to the sullied background they were once raised up from.

According to the source, “Eight Teaching Hospitals considered for the 1st phase included the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Zaria; University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan; University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH), Port Harcourt; and University of Maiduguri (UMTH), Maiduguri.

“Others were University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu; Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Lagos; University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH), Ilori, Kwara State and the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), Jos, Plateau State.

“The six Teaching Hospitals in the 2nd phase were at the universities of Ife, Benin, Sokoto, Kano, Calabar and Nnewi. Of the 14 Teaching Hospitals shortlisted, seven were equipped with the new cancer treatment machines but over decade later, none of the machines is in good working condition.”

At the end of its 52nd Annual Scientific Conference and workshop in Jalingo, the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN) frowned that the disease, on its menu, has gulped over 2 million victims with some hundreds of thousands of new cases reported annually, whereas modern Radiotherapy ought to have helped.

Alhaji Toyosi Raheem, the President of the group did not show smiling teeth, when he said, “We call on the federal government to fully equip the cancer centre and programme it has established with adequate human and infrastructural resources. The government has to integrate Nigerian Medical Laboratory Scientists into the Rapid Results Initiative (RRI) and Save One Million lives Initiative of the Federal Government.”

The connoisseurs’ judgments however suggested that early dictation is panacea to sustenance and that people should avoid sedentary lifestyle and processed foods to assuage the occurrence of cancer; they also accused the federal government of paying disinterest approach to integrate Nigerian Medical Laboratory Scientists into the Rapid Results Initiative (RRI). Hence, Raheem called on the government seriously, to do the needful, because one million lives have to be saved in Nigeria from cancer.

Odimegwu Onwumere is an award-winning journalist based in Rivers State. Tel: +2348032552855. E-mail: apoet_25@yahoo.com

Media Violence Against Women

In this report, Odimegwu Onwumere writes that there is a new form of violence against women through the media and calls on the general public to respect the right to dignity of the human person

Violence against women is gradually assuming a new form through the media. As the watchdog of the society, the media which have been playing a role in sensitizing the wide-ranging masses on the need to stop the violence against women, are at the same time meting out enormous treaties of violence against women through publishing pictures of the raped or battered women and other contraventions of privacy of women, knowing how sensational they are.

{senator Aisha Alhassan; Minister, Women Affairs And Social Development}
{senator Aisha Alhassan; Minister, Women Affairs And Social Development}

On September 28 2006 an Amy Jussel, a public affairs commentator published an article with the title – Media has a role to play in curbing violence against girls. In that treatise, the irked Jussel admonished as a matter of urgency that the media have to stop “glamorizing, romanticizing and sexualizing content under the auspices of violence prevention!”

Online Violence

Researcher A. N Nwammuo, writing on – Social Media and Perpetuation of Violence against Women in Nigeria: The Case of Facing Death on Facebook – said that clowns and criminals have invaded the internet and the World Wide Web negatively, causing problematic pains to the women world.

“Social media forms, due to their high interactivity, are used to perpetuate violence against women… The case of Cynthia Osukogu provides basis for this assertion,” said A.N Nwammuo.

Jussel went further, “We need to recognize that mass media is critical in communicating a responsible voice to curb violence against girls and women. As it is, hyper-sexualized environs have created a minefield that even young K-5 elementary girls are faced with dodging daily.”

One Kamala Sarup, writing on the topic – Violence Against Women And Role Of Media (Thursday, 13 January 2005) – commended some journalists, but added, “Although some in the media are to be commended for their ongoing efforts to reflect sensitive, diverse, and egalitarian images, others in the media still incorporate images that convey destructive messages. Still women’s bodies are used as objects to sell products.”

Lack Of Privacy, Security and Safety

Over the years, violence against women has taken novel forms. There have been videos of abused ladies posted online or through other means of technology. Many women have been killed through contacts they made online while using the internet or phones.

On 19 November 2010, Inter Press Service (IPS), South Africa, reported, “As more and more women go online using computers and mobile phones, many are silenced through acts of violence, sexism and censorship.

“In most cases women do not know what to do to protect themselves against such violations. Nor are there adequate measures adopted by telecommunications companies, internet service providers and software developers to protect users’ privacy, security and safety.”

Nwammuo intoned, “Violence against women through facebook manifests in many forms ranging from the use of words, photographs and physical injury resulting to the death of many women… Such violence has led to emotional, psychological and physical torture of Nigerian women.”

The IPS source said that in their bid to look into gender based violence, ICTs and the role of media, Association for Progressive Communications (APC) Women and Inter Press Service (IPS) Africa hosted a media discussion on November 17 2010, tagged – Click Against Violence: Taking 16 Days of Activism Online.

“Both ICT and VAW affect our capacity to completely enjoy our human rights and fundamental freedoms. Women and girls are increasingly experiencing violence when using the internet and mobile phones,” said Jan Moolman from APC Women’s Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP) who spoke about ‘Protecting Women’s Rights Online’.

Further, Jan Moolman, said, “Acts of violence against women in the real world are replicated online, including cyber stalking, cyber bullying, surveillance and other acts that violate women’s safety and privacy. ICTs are changing the ways in which women experience and respond to violence.”

Politicized Violence

According to the source, “Pratyoush Onta stated in his report: The mainstream media is very much politicized and it picks up women issues according to the political interest of patron political parties.

“Due to the lack of resources and trained work force, the media is not capable to produce widely impressive materials. Some of the women issues like trafficking, prostitution and rape come in the media just to create sensation. The media seem to be less concerned about women’s issues and rights.”

Defining Violence Against Women

But defining violence against women, the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, said, “Violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women, and that violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men.

“Some groups of women, such as belonging to minority groups, indigenous women, refugee women, migrant women, women living in rural or remote communities, destitute women, women in institutions or in detention, female children, disabled women, elderly women and women in situations of armed conflict, are especially vulnerable to violence.”

Mrs. Josephine Effa Chukwuma, the Executive Director of Project Alert on Violence Against Women, a Lagos-based organisation which is about 12 years old, said early this year that violence against women is a human rights abuse.

Mrs. Effa wasn’t just mouthing, she proved that she knew what she was talking about, being a specialist of English and Literary Studies, with a Master’s degree in Development Studies obtained from The Netherlands in 1992, and concentrating on women and development and then International Law and Social Justice.

Sensitizing Society

On November 29 2016, the Educating Nigerian Girls in New Enterprise, ENGINE, a non-governmental organisation, NGO, hyped its initiative dubbed “Walk of a 1000 Men”, as part of measures to sensitize the society against some incongruous attitudes that women are treated with in the world and called for a stop to any forms of violence against women.

The Chairperson of ENGINE, Mrs. Amina Salihu was worried, saying that the scheme was bent on addressing the causative factors of gender based aggression that often result to corporal, sexual, psychosomatic, unwritten harm or torment to women and girls. Mrs. Effa said that when a woman is being beaten by her husband or kicked around, that is torture!

“And, Chapter 4, of the Constitution governing the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which focuses on fundamental human rights says, “Every Nigerian, man, woman or child, has a right to dignity of the human person, freedom from torture, etc.,” she said.

In another vein, Lakshmi Puri, an international figure at the ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly, 19 June 2013, said, “When one in three girls in developing countries is likely to be married as a child bride; when some 140 million girls and women have suffered female genital mutilation; when millions of women and girls are trafficked in modern-day slavery; and when women’s bodies are a battleground and rape is used as a tactic of war – it is time for action.”

Odimegwu Onwumere is an award-winning journalist based in Rivers State. Tel: +2348032552855. E-mail: apoet_25@yahoo.com