Energy drinks have been described as a major contributor to the rising spate of deaths arising from kidney failures, liver infection and heart attacks, in the country.
Medical experts told The Tide in an exclusive interview in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, recently, that the consequence of too much consumption of energy drinks was the sudden rise in blood pressure, kidney fairlure gradual destruction of the liver, heart attack or blindness.
Chairman, Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Rivers State chapter, Dr Ibitrokoemi Korubo, said that “energy drinks contain chemicals that include caffeine, which stimulates a part of the sympathetic nervous system that makes one become overactive.”
“They also contain a large dose of glucose, which causes “system overdrive”.
According to Korubo, anything that can alter one’s physiological state is a drug, adding that overuse of any drug amounts to abuse and could lead to disastrous effects on the user.
“The consequence, in the short term, is the sudden rise in blood pressure, heart attack and sudden death”, stressing that the abuse of energy drinks “could lead to gradual destruction of the kidney, liver and heart as well as cause blindness.”
Korubo explained that when energy drinks were first introduced, “there were some caveats warning consumers ‘do not mix with alcohol, take one can in 12hours’ but what we observed is that the manufacturers have fraudulently removed those caveats or warning”.
The NMA chairman lamented that “the rate of energy drinks consumption among young persons in Nigeria is alarming, and it should be outrightly banned”, saying that if moderation is adviced, nobody will listen.
“It is common sight to see young people mixing energy drinks with alcoholic wines,” Korubo said, and warned that such habit “is simply suicidal”.
Patient medicine dealer in Port Harcourt, Dr Okechukwu Chukwuma said that those who consume caffeinated drinks risk over-stimulation of their hearts, which could in turn lead to hyper-activity of the heart and abnormal rate of heart enlargement and weakening of the cells.
Chukwuma said that the situation was even more serious for those who may already have heart conditions campy that such consumption could lead to death due to some electrical activity in the heart, resulting in cardiac arrhythmia.
He further noted that “caffeinated drinks are neuro-stimulants,” adding that “consumers are more likely to suffer from insomnia, anxiety and brain disorders.”
The Tide investigations reveal that while many consumers, who appreciate the negative effects of energy drinks on the human system, support their complete ban, other ignorant Nigerians and mostly dealers, lament that any attempt to ban the import of energy drinks would deny them a source of pleasure, new market opportunities and increasing profit in their businesses.
In an interview in Port Harcourt, a staff of one of the major oil and gas companies, who pleaded anonymity, said that any action banning the importation and sale of energy drinks could be seen as a declaration of war on a large segment of the population who feel that the only way to blur their minds off the failings of the system is to resort to the intake of the caffeinated brands.
On his part, a dealer in energy drinks, Chijioke Emenike, lamented that “already, all the negative publicities are cutting deep into our profit margins,” adding that “the outright ban of energy drinks would throw a lot of us out of business.”
However, while fielding questions from The Tide, the lawmaker representing Khana 1 Constituency in the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Legborsi Nwidadaah, applauded members of the House of Representatives for their move to stop the importation of energy/power drinks into Nigeria.
Nwidadaah said that members of the National Assembly had good reasons which is in the interest of the majority of Nigerians, to push for the ban on the importation of energy drinks.
According to him, “they must have seen something that is detrimental to our health. If they are representing the people, and they have seen that some of the drinks are substandard, hazardous and therefore injurious to our health, they are right as representatives of the people, to bring forth a motion and take a resolution banning the drinks.
“The ban should not end with energy drinks alone but should include other beverages and spirits that have been found to be substandard and or injurious to our health.”
While expressing reservations over an outright ban on all energy drinks, Nwidadaah said, “some of them are good and for these ones, the companies should be encouraged to come into the country to build their brewery plants and boost our economy.”
He argued that if the brewery plants are built in Nigeria, the raw materials used would be sourced locally, while indigenous capacity would be built over time through employment creation and development of in-country ancillary industries.
The Tide investigations show that 66 per cent of those who consume energy drinks are between the ages of 13 and 35.
Out of this number, The Tide discovered that some 65 per cent of them are males, who constantly take delight in the consumption of the power drinks to enhance their ability for fast stimulation.
It would be recalled that on January 22, 2013, the House of Representatives announced a motion to place a ban on the importation of energy drinks based on the findings of the House that some of the power drinks contained life-threatening substances that could adversely affect the brain, and blood pressure, and could lead to blood clotting complications.
Already, energy drinks have been banned in countries such as Norway, Denmark, Germany, and France due to their health implications and fatalities traceable to the intake of energy drinks.
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
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