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Bauchi State And Cholera Epidemic

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The causative link between cholera, gastroenteritis and consumption of unsafe drinking water and food contaminated by unhygienic water has been scientifically proved.

This explains why epidemiologists blame recent outbreak of cholera and gastroenteritis in the II northern states on poor access to safe and clean drinking water.

Statistics released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that more than 75 million Nigerians, about half of the country’s more than 150 million people, lack access to safe and clean drinking water.

This is in spite of huge investments in the water and sanitation sectors at various levels of government in the country.

Available records show that the water sector budgetary allocation between 1999 and 2007 alone was more than N357.86 billion for safe and clean drinking water.

Data also show that some 1.2 billion people lack safe water supply while 2.4 billion people live without secure sanitation worldwide.

Water Forum, a USAID-funded NGO, says one half of people living in developing countries, including Nigeria, are suffering from diseases caused either directly by infection through the consumption of contaminated water or food, or indirectly by disease-carrying organisms. According to medical experts, cholera is transmitted by contaminated water and food.

The disease causes serious diarrhoea and vomiting, leading to dehydration. Experts say cholera can be fatal, if not treated on time.

At the last count, the Federal Ministry of Health confirmed 352 deaths out of 6,497 suspected cholera cases recorded in some states.

The states are Adamawa, Bauchi, Kaduna, Katsina, Y obe, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, Jigawa, Cross Rivers.

Stakeholders, however, believe that tackling the epidemic is beyond clinical interventions. One of such stakeholders is the Water Aid Nigeria.

“Water Aid Nigeria recognises that tackling this crisis demands integrated approaches that go beyond clinical interventions.

“The World Health Organisation estimates that poor sanitation and unsafe water cause 28 per cent of child deaths, and safe sanitation and water are proven and cost-effective interventions.

“Safe sanitation and clean water could prevent nine out of 10 cases of diseases caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation conditions and simply using a safe toilet can reduce the incidence of water-borne diseases by nearly 40 per cent,” says Mr Onyinyechi Okechukwu, Water Aid Communication and Campaign Officer in Nigeria,.

This, perhaps, underscores the decision by Bauchi State Government to embark on a house-to­house sanitation to properly educate the people on the imperative of keeping a clean and hygienic environment as part of efforts to halt the spread of pandemic.

Although medical experts have recommended the application of ORT as a remedial solution to the effect of cholera on human body, Dr. Musa Dambam, Chairman, Bauchi State Primary Health Care Development Agency (BSPHCDA), advises the affected to first visit health centres before applying oral rehydration solution.

ORT consists of a solution of salt and sugar and it is applied orally around the world, especiallyin developing world where it saves millions of children yearly.

Dambam, however, says creating awareness on ORT use may be abused. “We advise patients and their relations to rush to treatment centres first whenever they have the case.

“After they might have learnt the preventive measures, they could then apply the aRT. They can use it in transit before coming to hospital,” he says.

Dambam attests to the efficacy of the solution but advises people to use the ORT sachet as it contains additional ingredients which the conventional mixture of water, salt and sugar does not have.

The chairman says that following government’s aggressive efforts such as public enlightenment campaigns, chlorination of wells, disinfection of the surroundings as well as drugs supply, cases has reduced to the barest level in the state.

Dambam says the state government has also established more than 30 centres for the administration of ORT in Bauchi, as well as in the affected local government areas.

He says that all cholera patients at the designated area at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital (ATBUTH) are being treated and provided free feeding to avoid movement of people in and out of the designated area.

Dambam further states that government has embarked on house-to house chlorination of wells and disinfection of the surroundings in the state capital, while health educators are carrying out campaigns on sanitation.

According to him, the Federal Government has also assisted the state with technical and material support, while a group of doctors under the aegis of “Doctors without Borders” is on ground to support.

The state government says it has embarked on aggressive provision of clean drinking water to communities across the 20 LGAs.In collaboration with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (BAURUWASSA), the government says it has so far raised access to clean drinking water from 2.7 million gallons in 2007 to 10 million gallons of water in Bauchi metropolis alone.

Mr. Bukata Bukar, the Commissioner for Water Resources, says the state government has purchased new generators and transformers to boost the capacity of the state’s water treatment plant in Bauchi metropolis.

In Azare, Misau, as well as in other towns and villages, the state government has also provided wells with hand pumps and motorised boreholes to boost water supply to the people.

Observers say that other communities, which have benefited from various water schemes in the state, include Bogoro, Kari and Gololo, which hitherto, had serious water supply challenges.

According to Bukar, about 205 solar-powered and motorised borehole projects have been completed and inaugurated, while 59 wells fitted with hand-pumps have been provided.

BAURUWASSA is the major government agency that has facilitated water supply across the state.

“Besides, water treatment chemicals are made available by the government and this has been very helpful in sustaining the current level of water supply,” he says.

Its Project Manager, Malam Garba Magaji, says that in three years, the agency executed 120 water projects in communities, schools and health facilities in Dass, Kirfi, Darazo, Giade, Zaki and Dambam local government areas.

He says that the improved water supply has also reduced the incidence of guinea worm disease in the state.

Observers note that the state government’s partnership with the Federal Government through the Conditional Grants Scheme (CGS) of the Office the MDGs has facilitated the drilling of more than I 00 solar-powered boreholes and 200 hand-pumped wells across the state.

Hajiya Hajara Wanka, Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the Governor on MDGs, says that about N4 billion has been spent in providing boreholes, using the 2007 and 2008 grants.

She says that most of the water projects were sited in the remotest parts of the state, pledging that the government will not relent in its efforts to attain a total coverage ofthe state in water supply programme.

“Despite these laudable efforts aimed at providing water to the people of the state, much needs to be done to ensure adequate provision of water,” she says.

However, Gov. Yuguda has raised the alarm that the aging Gubi Dam, the main source of water, is at the verge of collapse, and this may affect the water supply level.

Mrs Leritmwa John, a housewife residing in Yelwa community, calls on the state government to come to the aid of the residents with acute water problems.

State officials expect similar requests also come from Rafin Zurfi, Wuntin Dada, Gudum Sayawa and Gudum Hausawa communities.

A water expert, Dr Hassan Bdliya, says that the increased demand for water use has exerted pressure on the water agencies.

Bdliya, who is the Administrative Secretary of the Hadejia-Jamaare-Komadugu-Yobe River Basin Development Authority, however, stresses the need for effective management of the nation’s water resources.

Health analysts note that many diseases that afflict the people can be attributed to drinking unhygienic water and according to WHO and UNICEF; an estimated 1.8 million children under five worldwide die from water-related diseases every year.

They, therefore, call on relevant agencies and stakeholders to decisively address the water supply problems of the citizens, while Bauchi State should not relent in its efforts.

Adamu writes for NAN.

 

Sani Adamu

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What Do Nigerians Expect In 2022?

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As the year 2021 was winding up with all its ups and downs, it was natural for people to state some of their expectations in the coming year, 2022. And what are some of these prospects?
Joseph Omeje, is an economist and lecturer with the Enugu State University of Technology (ESUT). He believes that human beings are usually very optimistic. Hear him: Yes, the economy of the country and globally is very bad but I expect that 2022 will be better than 2021 only that we have to plead with the political leaders to play the game of electioneering very gently. Let there be human face in whatever they are doing. We wouldn’t like to hear that the youths are being used to kill or to commit all evil in a bid for some people to realise their political ambitions. Our leaders should do their best so that we do not incur much human losses anymore. We have suffered a lot in the hands of these religious extremists and those who are pursuing their personal goals.
Economically, Nigeria will do better once there is security. The insecurity problem in the country is something that government can tackle if they want. Once the security situation in the country is improved so as to allow farmers go back to their farms and Nigerians go about their businesses freely, then the nation wouldn’t be as bad as it was in the last year. Government should dialogue with agitating groups. Whatever is the problem let them discuss it so that there will be peace in the country. When there is peace, the economy will improve. I believe that political solution is much better than judicial solution.
I also expect that government should take a second look at the idea of giving out money in the name of allowances. What is N5000.00 for a household or even an individual in a month? Instead of all these handouts, government should create an environment where people can get employment. When we were growing up I know that some states had stakes in businesses. In my own state, Enugu, we had cashew industry, aluminium roofing sheet industry and all that. All these are moribund now. If all these can be revived and new ones added, you will see that there will be a lot of jobs. And once you have job opportunities for the youth, you will see that even the problem of insecurity will reduce and per capita income will increase and the economy will improve.
It is also my expectation that the excessive borrowings will stop. We have borrowed enough. It’s true that no country can do without borrowing but when we keep borrowing and we are not putting it into real investment portfolio or productive sector so that it helps the economy to grow, then there is a big problem. And how do we intend to pay back these loans? We heard what happened in Uganda recently. The Chinese government has taken over the only international airport they have because of their indebtedness to China. What if the same thing should happen to Nigeria?
For Mrs Dorathy Mayford, a civil servant, the experiences of the previous years have taught her not to have any expectations from the government, the society or individuals as doing so affects her health negatively. “I have learned that the best way to live is without having any expectations from life. Expecting good from our leaders in Nigeria will end up getting you disappointed. For some years now workers in the state and the nation have expected that their salaries will be increased to enable them cope with the prevailing harsh economic realities in the country. Civil servants in the state have expected that they will be promoted but these expectations were never met.  So, I have decided that in order to stay healthy and happy, I will not expect anything. I only put my trust and hope in God because only He will not disappoint or fail me.”
A technician, Mr Malachy Amadi, expects that there will be plenty of money in circulation in the country in 2022. In his words, “2022 is a year preceding an election year. It will be a period of campaigns and the politicians will bring out all the money they have been stealing from government’s coffers and saving. So, there will be a lot of money in circulation and that will make life better and easier for the masses.”
Joel Ogwuche, a stock broker, projects that Nigeria will be a better society, a well-planned environment where people can begin to make plans for the future. “As it is, presently, nobody can plan for tomorrow in this country because of several policy summersaults. Those in authority change the existing policies at any time and introduce new ones without even notifying the citizens. Nobody can make a sustainable plan in this type of environment. So, I expect that in the coming year, our leaders will begin to do the right thing for the benefit of the entire citizens and not for a few individuals”, he said.
Miss Grace Moses, a housekeeper, is of the hope that in 2022, security would be a major concern for those in the authority both at the federal and state levels. Grace, an indigene of Kaduna State, working in Port Harcourt, narrated that many people from her state have been forced out of their state and into other major cities around the country where they engage in all kinds of menial jobs to survive. According to her, the prices of food and other commodities are rising daily in the country because farmers have been driven away from villages by Boko Haram militants disguised as Fulani herdsmen and other criminals. She, therefore, expects that in 2022, the problem of insecurity will be given a sincere, adequate attention so that people can go back to their villages.
Jake Baridon, a legal practitioner expects the national and state assemblies to be on the side of the masses and make laws that will benefit the generality of the people instead of being “rubber stamps”. He continued, “I personally will expect the National Assembly to override President Muhammadu Buhari’s veto on electoral bill. The bill, as far as I know, represents the desire of the electorates in the country and it is wrong of Mr President with withhold his assent for the second time for some flimsy reasons. The year 2020 should be a period for us to start seeing vibrant law making, practical separation of power and checks and balances in our nation. These people have been dormant for a long time and it is high time they showed that they can not only bark but that they can also bite.”
He also expects the executive, legislative and judicial arms of government, the police, the EFCC and others bodies to play their respective roles in fighting corruption in Nigeria, adding that the high rate of corruption in the country is disturbing and if nothing is done to check it, the future of the country will be very bleak.
Arinola Moyo, a youth corps member, says she wants to see true leadership in the country, especially at the federal level. In her words: it’s been as if we don’t have a true leader since the current government came on board. Every time you hear the Presidency said this, the Attorney General of the Federation said that, Lai Mohammed said that. You hardly hear from the President, making it seem as if these people are the ones ruling the nation. So, I want to see more effective leadership in the country.
“Government should also do something about the high unemployment rate in the country. Thousands of graduates come out from schools every year without jobs for them. That is why some of them join Internet fraudsters and other bad gangs.
“I also expect federal and state governments to implement the recommendations of the various judicial panels on #EndSARS. This issue is so delicate to be swept under the carpet.” Moyo said.
Christian Chidi is a businessman. He expects that with the issue of COVID-19 being curtailed, life will come back to the business sector in the country. According to him, since the advent of the pandemic two years ago, business has been dull with many oil companies working from home and many private companies folding up.
A housewife, Lady Pep Iroh, is projecting that, come year 2022, adequate attention will be paid to the problem of soot in Port Harcourt which she alleges is causing serious health issues for the residents of the city.
Pastor Godswill Abalagha envisions that the grace of God will be abundant for the nation and the citizens in 2022 to help see them through all difficulties and challenges. He, however, advised Nigerians to turn away from their wicked ways, including stealing government’s money, shedding of blood, kidnapping, corrupt practices and rather seek the face of God.

By: Calista Ezeaku

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…Creates Two New Offices In Govt House

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has announced the creation of two new executive offices to guarantee efficiency and effectiveness of activities at the Government House, in Port Harcourt.
The governor’s action was made known in a statement signed by the Special Assistant on Media to the Rivers State Governor, Kelvin Ebiri in Government House, Port Harcourt, last Monday.
The terse statement reads, “To ensure activities are functioning efficiently and effectively, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has announced the creation of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt.
“The Deputy Chief of Staff will be in charge of the Logistics, Correspondence of the Governor and Legal Matters.
“Similarly, he has also announced the creation of the Office of the Special Adviser on Aviation”.

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Accelerating Gender Parity In Nigeria

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In virtually all societies, women are in an inferior position to men. Sex or gender determines  more rights and dignity for men in legal, social and cultural situations, These are reflected on unequal access to or enjoyment of rights in favour of men.
There are also the assumption of stereotype social and cultural roles.
In Nigeria, gender inequality has been for decades in spite of modernization and the fact that many females have done better than men in many spheres.
Analysts are convinced that gender inequality is largely influenced by religious and cultural beliefs, as some cultures and religions still hold strongly that women are the weaker vessels created mainly to be home keepers and child bearers.
Analysts are also worried that gender inequality negatively affects status in all areas of life in society, whether public or private, in the family or labour market.
Although the Global Gender Gap Report 2018 by the World Economic Forum (WEF) shows some progress amongst the 149 countries that were indexed, the progress toward closing the gender gap is slow, because it will take 108 years to close the gender gap and another 202 years to achieve parity in the workforce, according to the report.
The report benchmarks the 149 countries on their progress toward gender parity across four dimensions – economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.
A number of initiatives have been made by corporate organisations and governmental and non-governmental organisations  to address gender imbalance in Nigeria.
One of the latest is the launch of First Women Network  (FWN) by the First Bank of Nigeria Ltd., in commemoration of the 2019 International Women’s Day (IWD).
IWD is celebrated globally every March 8 to recognise social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
The celebration is also a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
The global theme for the 2019 celebration is “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change” while the theme for the social media campaign is “#BalanceforBetter”.
According to the bank, the FWN initiative is an avenue for career management and mentoring for women to enable them to balance their career with private endeavours.
The aim,  according to the bank, is to address gender gap and increase women representation in its senior and executive levels, as well as encourage women to tap into opportunities and contribute to nation-building.
The bank’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Adesola Adeduntan,  explains that First Women Network is targeted at the banks’ staff and customers, among others.
He believes that women can achieve more if given the necessary strategic support, hoping that the initiative
will increase the bank’s productivity and profitability.
Adeduntan notes that the initiative is  also a demonstration of First Bank’s adherence to the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Sustainable Development Goals which mandate increased women representation in all banks.
The sustainable goals require that the financial services sector should adopt a quota system to increase women representation on boards to 30 per cent and that of senior management level to 40 per cent by 2014.
Adeduntan is optimistic that the FWN will address six key area –  career management, personal branding, mentoring, welfare, financial planning and empowerment.
He is convinced that the initiative will address gender disparity at the workplace.
“It is commonly agreed that gender parity is an essential factor influencing the advancement of institutions, economies and societies.
“Studies have shown that gender parity in corporations promotes increased performance and returns on investment.
“The need to invest in composite women empowerment and enhance their contributions at senior management levels to achieve organisational goals cannot be over-emphasised,” the CEO says.
For him,  it is paradoxical that the presence of women in paid employments continues to increase, yet the progression of professional women to positions of leadership and management remains slow.
“Gender gaps persist in economic opportunities and political participation in many countries.
“This is part of the reasons for this women network initiative,” he notes.
The chief executive officer wants employers of labour and the entire society to encourage women to advance, excel and contribute optimally in  workplaces and communities.
Mr Abiodun  Famuyiwa, group head, Products and Marketing Support, promises that First Bank  will continue to promote female entrepreneurship for national growth and development.
“We recognise that promoting female entrepreneurship and independence is key to economic viability of every home in the country,” he says.
 According to him, FWN is a further demonstration of the bank’s commitment to women empowerment after the launch  of FirstGem in 2016.
He is satisfied that FirstGem is providing opportunities for women to achieve their financial goals and aspirations through with access to support funds, free business advice, specialised trainings on business development and insight on business development.
For Mr Lampe Omoyele, managing director, Nitro 121, an integrated marketing communications agency,  points out that courage is important in addressing gender imbalance.
“For gender imbalance to be resolved, there has to be courage, vision, values and character,” he says.
He is convinced that women should  have courage and confidence in taking risks within  organisations.
Omoyele advises that women must not play the victims.
“Ultimately, whether you are a female or male, what is going to sustain you is your character and values.
“You need to have values; character is important in the balance that we live to, and it sustains you as you move into the future,” he adds.
The Chief Executive Officer,  Standard  Chartered Bank, Mrs Bola Adesola, wants women to take advantage of FWN to make their lives better.
 She urges women to aspire to grow in their endeavours and refuse be limited because of their gender, stressing that they should use all resources at their disposal to grow.
 For the bank chief, FWN is not a silver bullet to creating the first female chief executive officer of First Bank, but  about opportunity.
“So, it is important that as women, we take advantage of it,” she urges.
 Ms Cecilia Akintomide, independent non-executive director, FBN Holdings Plc, is dissatisfied that Nigeria is still far in gender balancing.
Akintomide says Nigerian  women are still being restricted from working in some places and owning some property.
According to her, restrictions are rendering 50 per cent of Nigeria’s population –  mainly women –  economically unviable.
 A First Bank customer,  Mrs Ifeyinwa Okoye, lauds the FWN, and urges the bank to ensure that its customers – the secondary target of FWN –  benefit from it.
Okoye describes women as critical to economic growth and development but regrets that many women were lagging behind in their endeavours because of gender inequality.
She wants the banks to enlighten its customers on FWN for maximum results.
 “If you empower a woman, you empower a nation.
“Empowering women is especially effective because the benefits are felt throughout the whole community,” she argues.
Analysts call for more strategic support for Nigerian women to  enhance gender parity.


By: Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma
Joel-Nwokeoma is of the News Agency of Nigeria.

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