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HIV/AIDS Treatment Gaps: Any Solution?

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Since the early eighties
when HIV/AIDS came to the fore in Nigeria, there had been various fears at different points regarding the pandemic.
The first was the fear associated with the mode of contracting the virus, which was blown out of proportion; people even thought then that mere hand shake with an infected person would result in contracting HIV/AIDS.
The next type of fear had to do with stigmatization: people refused to go for Health Counseling and Testing (HCT) for fear of being stigmatized, rejected and ostracized by the society. Consequently, they would rather prefer to die than access treatment.
For those who are employed, the fear of losing their job as a result of stigmatization was too much for them to comprehend.
Beyond these, there had also been various levels of fears within individuals, groups and government at various levels: if the fear is not associated with lack of HIV test kits, it could be the attitude of Health workers towards HIV/AIDS infected persons or lack of fund to provide necessary AIDS related drugs.
The current fear is associated with what will happen as a result of a persistent lack of antiretroviral drugs and the inability of infected persons to ascertain the level of HIV in their blood because out of 37 states in the federation, only five states have functional viral load machines in Nigeria.
The viral load refers to the amount of HIV in the blood. If the viral load is high, T-helper cells tend to be destroyed more quickly. Therefore, the aim of the antiretroviral therapy (ART), which is not readily available, is to keep the viral load as low as possible.
The T-helper cell plays an essential part in the immune system by helping to co-ordinate all other cells to fight illnesses.
Across the country, the scarcity of ARV drugs has posed serious problems for People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHIV). For instance, almost all the states introduced free ARV treatment for PLWHIV but most times, the program  experiences drug stock outs.
In Rivers State, precisely, a reliable source who spoke on condition of anonymity told The Tide that the ART is under the free medical by the state government, but because no fund was released in 2012 for the program, People Living with HIV (PLWHIV) suffered drug stock outs all through.
Besides, the lack of functional viral load machines in most states in Nigeria currently has raised the fear that the country may witness an astronomical increase in HIV related deaths, and this is capable of jeopardizing its quest to attain the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) goal 6 which has to do with combating HIV/AIDS to a reasonable level by 2015.
National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), which co-ordinates the activities of the State Agencies for the Control of AIDS (SACAs) in Nigeria, is vested with the responsibility of providing the viral load machines in the country. It also takes care of the repair and/or maintenance of the machines.
Currently, though, only Lagos, Abuja, Anambra, Ibadan and Benin have functional viral load machines bought and distributed earlier by NACA to all states are now beyond repair.
The Tide’s  gathered that the viral load machines, bought from abroad are very expensive, and each time any of them malfunctions, the supplier is invited from abroad by NACA to come and repair it.
This has eaten deep into the purse of NACA, Which is currently in search of partners for the purpose of purchasing and maintaining new viral load machines.
The co-ordinator, Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (NEPWHAN), Rivers State Chapter, Mrs. Josephine Emmanuel, who was on her sick bed during press time, chatted endlessly, lamenting what she described as the indiscriminate loss of their members to HIV/AIDS, and the absence of viral load machine in River State.
“For the past three weeks I have been sick from one illness to the other and because there is no viral load machine in the state, I was taken to Benin to ascertain my viral load levels. To my greatest surprise my viral load was extremely high, which ostensibly shows that all the HIV treatment I have been taking failed.”
“Most of us find it extremely difficult to afford transport fare to Benin or Ibadan, to ascertain our viral load in a bid to know when to commence new drug regimen”, Mrs. Josephine lamented, tears rolling down her cheeks.
Mrs. Emmanuel pleaded that both the federal, state and local Government Areas should endeavour to earmark certain amount from their HIV budget for the purchase of viral load machines in Rivers State and other states to alleviate the economic, financial and psychological burden of PLWHIV.
Ironically, NACA is believed to be well funded, though by Donor Agencies and the Western World.
For instance, NACA (2012:59) report shows that the expenditure on implementing HIV/AIDS programs in Nigeria was $300 million in 2007, of which the majority $225,392,257.00 (85.3%) was from international funds, with bilateral contributions totaling $197,219,307.00 (19.43%). The rest were from international not-for-profit organizations and foundations amounting to $32,479 (0.01%).
The same trend continued in 2008 with international funds contributing 92.3% of the $364, 581, 432. 00 of the total expenditure.
$364, 581, 432.00, (80.8%), $845, 477, 907.00 (11.5%), and $63, 000.00 (0.01) were respectively contributed by the direct bilateral contributing multilateral agencies and international not-for-profit organizations and foundations.
Funding for HIV/AIDS spending in low and middle income countries is distributed by multilateral organizations which obtain their funding from a number of national governments. The largest of such body is the Global fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which had distributed about $16.2 billion for HIV/AIDS, Malaria and TB by November 2011.
Investigation revealed that under the consolidated phase I of Rounds 5, 8 and 9 Global fund HIV grant (2009-2012), NACA received about $151.6 million for HIV/AIDS activities in the country.
It further gathered that about $228 million was recently approved for phase II (2013-2015) for the scaling up of gender sensitive HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support for Adults and children, including health and community strengthening in Nigeria.
A presentation made at a two-day National Antiretroviral and co-trimoxazole Quantification Assumptions workshop by senior programme specialist, Centre for Disease Control (CDC) on the strategic use of ART, Dr. Ogbanife Obinna, noted that over 270, 000 new HIV infections occur annually in Nigeria; while only about 56,000 new HIV clients are put on ARVS in the same period with a ratio of approximately 1.5. Comparatively, South Africa record about 350, 000 new HIV infections annually, put about 227, 000 positive persons on treatment annually.
This is an indication that Nigeria is doing poorly for a country with high burden of HIV.
Meanwhile, several African Countries such as Bostwana, Cambodia and Malaysia are now ahead of their HIV epidemic because the number of people put on treatment annually surpasses the rate of new infections recorded.
In a telephone interview with the Tide, the Executive Director of the Rivers State Agency for the control of AIDS (RIVSACA), Dr. Chimeizie Okeh said, in a bid for Nigeria to meet her HIV treatment goals, resources needs to be redirected at HIV Programs with the greatest impact.
According to him, research should continue towards more effective HIV treatment options and that the National guidelines for HIV/AIDS should be appropriately implemented.
The Rivers State co-ordinator of Women Living with HIV/AIDS, Mrs. Peace Elijah told The Tide during the triennial Delegates Conference of PLWHIV, Rivers State, that apart from viral load machines, HIV pregnant women encounter difficulties in accessing ARVs treatment in health facilities in the state.
“We have a lot of PMTCT sites in the state but there are not enough drugs for both mothers and babies born by HIV Positive mothers. After delivery, the mother is supposed to be placed on complete dosage of Neviraphine, while the babies will also be administered ARVs drugs but these ARVs are not readily available thereby leading to mass deaths of both mothers and babies”, she said.
Mrs. Elijah, who is currently pregnant, further advocated for Greater Involvement and Investment of People with AIDS (GIIPA) principle in most state to enable PLWHIV become self reliant. “The GIIPA principle is a global one, of which some states in Nigeria have adopted”.
Recently, she continued, President Goodluck Jonathan introduced “President’s Emergency Response Plan” (PERP), which seeks to test two million pregnant women in two years, provide antiretroviral drugs and treatment to over 80,000 women in the next two years, as well as provide Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) to 80,000 babies newly born to HIV positive mothers.
To what extent this can be achieved going by the current incapacitating development in Nigeria as regards HIV/AIDS, and whether budget on HIV/AIDS released to states and NACA were not meant for the purchase of viral load machines are questions that requires urgent answers by all stakeholders
Meanwhile, The Tide, source gathered that most of the investment on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria comes from international sources. As of 2008, only 7.6 percent of investment was domestic public expenditure. The majority of the funding came from development partners. The main donors are United State President Emergency Plan for AIDS (PEPFAR) and World Bank.
In 2008, PEPFAR provided approximately $448 million to Nigeria for HIV/AIDS, prevention, treatment and care, the 3rd highest amount out of PEPFAR’s focus countries. Also, Presentation by PEPFAR last year revealed that it is providing treatment for 489, 538 PLWHIV, “The Tide source gathered”.
NACA Boss, Prof. John Idoko, recently revealed that about three million people are HIV positive in Nigeria. One million, five hundred of the number he said require HIV treatment, but only five hundred thousand currently access treatment.
The question therefore is, if PERFAR is providing treatment for 489,538, it means only 104,62 are left in the 500,000 people accessing treatment when one consider that other donor agencies such as World Bank, Global Fund, UNICEF, etc also contribute in no small measure to HIV/AID s treatment and preventions activities in Nigeria, it leaves a huge question mark on extent to which NACA carries out its HIV/AIDs prevention and treatment activities
PEPFAR also revealed that from 2015, they will commence gradual withdrawal of fund for HIV/AIDS. This is most likely to affect HIV treatment in Nigeria, if more resources are not put into HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment in order to fill the expected gaps.
While responding to the issues as it affects NACA, the Head, State Affairs Unit, NACA, Dr. Ifeoma Ezekwe told The Tide in a telephone interview that NACA only assisted state SACAs to get the viral load machines.
In the purchase of new viral load machines, she said “if funds were available we would have bought and distributed to states as was earlier don”.
From the fore-some, for Nigeria to make reasonable progress and possibly attain the MDG goal 6, therefore, more attention needs to be directed at increasing preventive activities such as grass-root enlightenment, increase in state health budget with particular reference to HIV/AIDS for adequate provision of ARV treatments including viral load machines, as well as ensuring that the ARVs get to the end users.
One way to ensure universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support is to further strengthen the monitoring and Evaluation mechanism of all implementing partners in the country.
Meanwhile, Nigeria can reduce new infections, if the number of persons on HIV treatment is aggressively increased by about 100,000 in 2013, 150,000 in 2014 and 200,000 in 2015.

 

Sogbeba Dokubo

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NUJ: Gleanings Of PH National Confab

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Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, recently served as the host city for the Third National Conference of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
Declaring the two-day event open at the Obi Wali International Conference Centre, Port Harcourt, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, said he considered the theme of the Conference “The Media, Insecurity And National Unity” very apt in view of the perilous security challenges that have continued to plague the country unabated which he believed would address the issues of insecurity in Nigeria and positively impact on the nation’s unity.
Represented by his Deputy, Dr Ipalibo Harry Banigo, the Governor said that the country was threatened as a result of self-destructive tendencies like ethnic chauvinism, religious intolerance, brazen disregard for the rule of law and nepotism and that it appeared the Federal Government of Nigeria was fanning these embers of disunity through its perceived actions and inactions.
“For instance, how could we explain a situation where almost all the heads of security agencies as well as critical national institutions are headed by people from a particular ethnic nationality and religious faith in a country which prides itself as a secular state and believes in federal character when it comes to the appropriation of positions?” Wike wondered.
He urged journalists, who are said to constitute the Fourth Estate of the Realm, to brainstorm and come up with a workable solution to save the country from imminent collapse.
NUJ President, Chief Chris Isiguzo, while speaking, called on journalists in Nigeria to avoid allowing politicians to dictate news angles for them. He also spoke on the theme: ‘The Media, Insecurity And National Unity’ at the event which held from June 7th – 8th, 2021.
Isiguzo added that it is unethical for journalists to allow politicians take over their responsibilities and dictate media content at the expense of public interest. He warned journalists to de-escalate news capable of causing fear and panic, especially now that the country is facing the challenge of insecurity.
In one of the other presentations at the conference, the Head of Mass Communication Department, Renaissance University, Enugu, Dr Maxwell Ngene, urged the Federal Government to ensure that the Freedom of Information Act is domesticated and implemented in all states of the federation as a matter of necessity, so as to instill accountability in government.
Speaking on ‘Maintaining Peace in Turbulent Times: The Role Of The Media in Security and Unity of Nigeria’, Ngene, advocated that codes of conduct in journalism practice should be encouraged as well as development of a regulatory framework that would enhance media’s role in national unity and security, while adding that there should also be strict observance of high professional standards of ethics.
Also speaking on  Media and National Security, Alhaji Muktar Sirajo stressed that there must be ethical re-orientation in media practice, genuine and inclusive fight against corruption, pervasive unemployment and poverty, and addressing the issues of ethno-religious, political and economic-based violence, with robust improvement in national security architecture to stem the tide of terrorism and insecurity in the country.
Alhaji Muktar urged media on its part to place national interest above any parochial interest in disseminating information to the public. He enjoined the mass media to avoid the temptation of over- escalating negative news, but rather focus more on escalating positive news in other to calm the tension arising from the insecurity challenge being faced in the country. 
In another presentation on the same topic, Richard Akinnola, explained that press freedom is about freedom of expression, which in itself is a fundamental right in the world, without which genuine democracy cannot thrive. He encouraged journalists never to disclose their source of information no matter the cost, noting that they must maintain their sources of information in order not to betray the trust and confidentiality of their new source. 
Also as part of the event, delegates undertook a tour of the new Flyover bridges to have a feel of some of the new edifices being put in place by His Excellency, Governor Nyesom Wike. The first visited was the Okoro-Nu-Odo Flyover with a length of 880 metre. The second visited was the Rumuogba 1&2 Flyover which we were told is the longest of all with 1.24km length. Others were the Rumuola, GRA Junction, Rebisi, and Oro-Abali flyovers. It was gathered that three of the flyovers were constructed at the same time and delivered less than one year.
It is worthy to note that the NUJ Vice President Zone D, Chief Wilson Bako, led the Team Flyover and the Rivers State Press Officer, Ministry of Works, Paul Bazia, sensitised the delegates on the Wike-led administration’s projects recorded thus far.
It was also observed that delegates commended the numerous quality infrastructural projects executed by Governor Wike, while calling on other governors in the country to emulate his leadership prowess.
Meanwhile, everything that has a beginning has an end as the two-day event came up with a 17-Point communique drafted by the Drafting Committee members; namely Amos Dunia, Ifeyinwa Omowole and Emma Couson and signed by the National Secretaries, Shuaibu Usman Leman and Walin Shadalafiya, on June 8th, 2021, in the presence of key media houses and civil society organisations (CSOs).
The confab adopted the following resolutions as panacea to the myriad of security, political and ethno-religious crises currently facing the country. 

  • Taking into cognisance that the primary responsibility of government is to protect lives and property of citizens, against the backdrop of prevailing situations that government is overwhelmed and unable to effectively carry out this onerous responsibility, the conference urges citizens to assist in community mobilisation as a way of addressing insecurity and notes that it will be disastrous to allow citizens to lose confidence in the ability of government to deal with the situation.
  • The conference also did retrospection on the role of journalists with regard to their core mandate of informing, educating and holding government and leaders accountable. Conference notes that the media has played an active role in their propagation and proliferation by promoting their different names and titles and serving as a vehicle for their messages.
    *It also notes that more is required of practitioners as watchdogs of the society, particularly at this trying period in which a balanced reportage is more than ever before desired.
  • The Nigeria Union of Journalists takes note of the responsibility of the state to guarantee safety of lives and property, to protect the economy and economic resource areas, critical infrastructure, environment, including forest reserves and national assets.
  • The government should, in enforcing security policies, carry stakeholders at all levels of governance along and ensure good governance.
  • The Media should mediate with its distinct role of being between the governed and the rulers, particularly in situation of existential threats. The Union urges its members to prioritise mediation in the prevailing tension that pervades all geo-political zones and the threats to Nigeria’s unity. 
    *The Conference urges media practitioners to exercise caution in their reportage and analysis of unfolding events as well as play the role of a mediator between contending forces and actors. 
    *The media should be a partner in de-escalating tension instead of being a party to the conflict.
    *As for the controversy generated by the suspension of the micro-blogging platform – Twitter, the Union notes the widespread use of its resourcefulness in promoting dialogue, individual expression and commerce. The Union, therefore, solicits for caution on all sides.
  • In view of the challenges impacting on press freedom, freedom of expression, the Union will establish a Special Press Freedom Monitoring and Defence Committee.
  • The Conference, as part of innovation being injected into the NUJ, an ‘NUJ HALL OF FAME’ was launched. It is in view of this that the Conference resolves that the HALL OF FAME shall be instituted to accord due recognition to deserving public office holders, technocrats, journalists and other deserving members of the society, who have distinguished themselves in their chosen fields. In this wise, His Excellency, the Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, became the first inductee of the HALL OF FAME.
    *The Conference stresses the need for adherence to the rights of the people to freely express themselves and comment on the affairs of state and conduct of government as an intrinsic part of democracy that demands accountability of rulers and public officers to the citizenry.
    *Conference notes that a factor we cannot ignore is the fact that Nigeria is a country that fought a civil war. Those who were active players in the war, from children that were born after the war to those who experienced the war, have not gotten a closure.
    *Stakeholders call on the NUJ to lead the national voice for healing the actors of the Nigerian Civil War still alive, to engage and dialogue on issues that bind them as well as commit to ensuring that past events are put behind them and all find closure.
  • Conference also notes that #EndSARS was just a ventilation of bottled-up anger, dissatisfaction and discontent with the elites.
    Conference notes that more than 60 years after Independence, it is still battling with ‘State of Origin’ in our National Data Collection System taking into cognisance that ethnicity and tribe played a negative role in the cause of the RWANDAN war. . Participants commend His Excellency, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State for hosting the Conference and thank the people of the State for the warm reception.

By: Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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Should Daughters Inherit Father’s Property?

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Recently, a court in one of the southern states nullified the practice of denying female children the right to inherit their father’s property. The ruling confirms that the female child can inherit her father’s property. It is good but how the message is going to be sent to the villages at the grassroots calls for concern.
This issue of women inheriting directly from their lineage is supposed to be translated to the rural areas. This will give them a sense of belonging.
One thing is for the government or a competent court to make and interpret such law, another is for kinsmen to obey and allow the female children inherit their father’s wealth.
There are those who hold tightly to the cultural practice that females should not inherit their father’s property because, according to them, women get married out. Some people have vowed not to, feeling that if a daughter partakes in the share of her father’s property, she will take the proceeds to her husband’s house. Even as educated as some persons are, and having attained certain levels in the society, they still hold to the opinion.They claim that it is African culture. In some rural areas they don’t bother whether such laws are in existence and view it as imported.
Another group say there is nothing wrong in that since the woman came from such lineage. For them, such idea is primitive and archaic in this 21st century.
A legal practitioner, Chidi Enyie explained that every female child has a right of inheritance.
Citing Section 42 Sub 1&2 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, he said that every person has a right to freedom from discrimination.
He said that was invoked in Ukoje Vs Ukoje (2020) where the Supreme Court came to a judgement that no person by reason of sex shall be discriminated against by reason of sex from inheriting the property of the parents.  The same way the males are entitled to inheritance, that’s the same females are entitled.
According to Barr. Enyie, the issue of sharing inheritance comes into play when a deceased parent dies intestate, that is dying without a Will, but if it is when there is a Will, it means the deceased person has done the sharing of the property in the Will.
“In most cases, it happens when there is a Will.  In our custom in Nigeria, they tend to favour the male child, but the Supreme Court judgement remains the name unless it is reversed in later decisions”, he said.
His words: “As it is, the barrier of discrimination has been nullified. Both male and female can inherit.  Even if she dies, her children are supposed to continue the ownership of the property, they are supposed to inherit their mum.  It can continue to run from generation to generation in that lineage”.
He pointed out that it depends largely on the type of marriage as sometimes in a customary marriage, the custom of the people will apply so long as the custom is not repugnant to national justice, equity and God conscience, then the custom will apply.
But in a Statutory marriage, Esien vs Esien (1934), he said that the Supreme Court came out with a decision that if it is the biological father of the child and not the customary father of the child.
“But ignorance on the part of the society tries to hamper the execution of the judgement of the Supreme Court”, he insisted.
He maintained that the judgement of Ukeje vs Ukeje is being criticised by the Ibo tribe that it wants to nullify their customs stressing that it should not prescribe what their custom should be.
He advocated that women should remain vibrant and contend for their right until awareness is created about the equality of both sex.
A pharmacist, Mr. Edet Okong, said such issue is prevalent in Nigeria because of poverty and illiteracy while it is not practised in other countries.
He noted that women have a share in his family whenever they are sharing things.  
He asked: “Is it not somebody from that family that gave birth to the woman?”
A legal practitioner, Mr. Ejike Uboh, noted that the issue of inheritance has to be handled by the court.
He said that NGOs need to carry out a lot of campaigns to the rural areas to be able to change the mindset of people who still hold into such cultural practice.
Uboh said that females inheriting their father’s property is good and traceable to the Holy scripture and called on FIDA and traditional rulers who are the embodiment of customs to sensitise people, giving reasons why such practice should stop.
A mechanic, Nude Ikegwuru, insisted that it is impossible for a daughter to inherit her father’s property and argued that women are exempted from paying levies in some communities and so should not.  
He made reference to the Aba women riot of 1929 which prevents women from paying tax in Nigeria.
A businessman, Gold Ibokwe, said that such laws and decision by the government should be taken seriously as time goes on.
According to a medical laboratory scientist, Ebere Nduidi, “when a woman is not married, she should have right to any property in her father’s home but when she gets married, I don’t think that is necessary.”
He emphasised that when a woman gets married, she changes her name and start answering her husband’s name, becomes somebody’s wife and so should not as she has been legally married.
Although he argued that the daughter can if it is her biological father’s property and not a general family case and insisted that if she gets the property before the death of the father, she should not return it.
“Fathers have the right to Will properties to their daughters if they want. They have equal opportunity as the male children”, he opined.
An entrepreneur, Davies Peter, said a woman can inherit her father’s property while she is alive and after her lifetime, the property should be released to the family.
According to him, since she bears the name of another family, the children shouldn’t continue the inheritance.
He advised that natural justice has to take its course instead of imported law while the laws be properly looked into and maintained that there should be some exception to the interpretation of some of the law as regards Nigeria and Africa generally.
He said although some of the laws are treated based on the fact that women are referred to as the weaker sex and they try to wave certain things.
He cautioned that people should not bring what is impracticable into existence and argued that male and female are not equal.
Mr. Kayode Ojo, an Architect asked: “Don’t you think that when you give a woman land in her father’s house, another one in her husband’s house, it will be too much? 
“ A man and a woman is a family, the husband and the children, so she should inherit in her husband’s house”, he noted.
Although the law supersedes tradition, he said, but that is if he wants to give the land to his daughter, at the end of the day, it is her own and insisted that tradition cannot prove the law wrong.
A pharmacist, Mary Udoh, said that fathers should be sensitised about writing Wills before death, so that if a property is bequeathed to whether a female or male, nobody under the law can take it away from such child.
An engineer, Emeka Obi, said what one may call cultural barriers and taboos is a common problem in Nigeria.
As he puts it: “People’s customs and traditions are peculiar to those who practice them. If according to the way of life of a given people, their daughters don’t have a place in the family inheritance, so be it, but if out of love or goodluck, a father Wills a property to any of his daughters, I have no problem with that”.
A nurse, Mary Uche, in her own view said: “ This is a welcome development. We are more of girls in my house than boys. “Could you believe that we lost our Dad, we the girls buried him but the boys took all the properties. And even if a woman dies, all her properties will be given to the sons’ wives. The only things given to the girls are clothes, if you demand more, they will tell you to go and inherit your husband’s house. If you are single, they will tell you to go and marry”.
The consequence of denying the female child the right of inheritance of father’s property is that if it comes to a situation where she is expected to contribute to family pressures, definitely she will withdraw. 
I’m not sure that any property can be too much to be owned by a woman.  If she has properties both in her father’s house and husband’s home, better for the children; after all, they were not stolen but inherited from grandparents. 
Religious leaders should preach more to the populace on improving the lives of people in the society.
Traditional rulers, NGOs should continually have dialogue and pass the messages down to the grassroots and perhaps to those in the urban centers no matter how learned and their level of exposure.

By: Eunice Choko-Kayode

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Should Daughters Inherit Father’s Property?

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Recently a court in one of the southern states nullified the practice of denying female children the right to inherit their father’s property. The ruling confirms that the female child can inherit her father’s property. It is good but how the message is going to be sent to the villages at the grassroots calls for concern.
This issue of women inheriting directly from their lineage is supposed to be translated to the rural areas. This will give them a sense of belonging.
One thing is for the government or a competent court to make and interpret such law, another is for kinsmen to obey and allow the female children inherit their father’s wealth.
There are those who hold tightly to the cultural practice that females should not inherit their father’s property because, according to them, women get married out. Some people have vowed not to, feeling that if a daughter partakes in the share of her father’s property, she will take the proceeds to her husband’s house. Even as educated as some persons are, and having attained certain levels in the society, they still hold to the opinion.They claim that it is African culture. In some rural areas they don’t bother whether such laws are in existence and view it as imported.
Another group say there is nothing wrong in that since the woman came from such lineage. For them, such idea is primitive and archaic in this 21st century.
A legal practitioner, Chidi Enyie explained that every female child has a right of inheritance.
Citing Section 42 Sub 1&2 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, he said that every person has a right to freedom from discrimination.
He said that was invoked in Ukoje Vs Ukoje (2020) where the Supreme Court came to a judgement that no person by reason of sex shall be discriminated against by reason of sex from inheriting the property of the parents.  The same way the males are entitled to inheritance, that’s the same females are entitled.
According to Barr. Enyie, the issue of sharing inheritance comes into play when a deceased parent dies intestate, that is dying without a Will, but if it is when there is a Will, it means the deceased person has done the sharing of the property in the Will.
“In most cases, it happens when there is a Will.  In our custom in Nigeria, they tend to favour the male child, but the Supreme Court judgement remains the name unless it is reversed in later decisions”, he said.
His words: “As it is, the barrier of discrimination has been nullified. Both male and female can inherit.  Even if she dies, her children are supposed to continue the ownership of the property, they are supposed to inherit their mum.  It can continue to run from generation to generation in that lineage”.
He pointed out that it depends largely on the type of marriage as sometimes in a customary marriage, the custom of the people will apply so long as the custom is not repugnant to national justice, equity and God conscience, then the custom will apply.
But in a Statutory marriage, Esien vs Esien (1934), he said that the Supreme Court came out with a decision that if it is the biological father of the child and not the customary father of the child.
“But ignorance on the part of the society tries to hamper the execution of the judgement of the Supreme Court”, he insisted.
He maintained that the judgement of Ukeje vs Ukeje is being criticised by the Ibo tribe that it wants to nullify their customs stressing that it should not prescribe what their custom should be.
He advocated that women should remain vibrant and contend for their right until awareness is created about the equality of both sex.
A pharmacist, Mr. Edet Okong, said such issue is prevalent in Nigeria because of poverty and illiteracy while it is not practised in other countries.
He noted that women have a share in his family whenever they are sharing things.  
He asked: “Is it not somebody from that family that gave birth to the woman?”
A legal practitioner, Mr. Ejike Uboh, noted that the issue of inheritance has to be handled by the court.
He said that NGOs need to carry out a lot of campaigns to the rural areas to be able to change the mindset of people who still hold into such cultural practice.
Uboh said that females inheriting their father’s property is good and traceable to the Holy scripture and called on FIDA and traditional rulers who are the embodiment of customs to sensitise people, giving reasons why such practice should stop.
A mechanic, Nude Ikegwuru, insisted that it is impossible for a daughter to inherit her father’s property and argued that women are exempted from paying levies in some communities and so should not.  
He made reference to the Aba women riot of 1929 which prevents women from paying tax in Nigeria.
A businessman, Gold Ibokwe, said that such laws and decision by the government should be taken seriously as time goes on.
According to a medical laboratory scientist, Ebere Nduidi, “when a woman is not married, she should have right to any property in her father’s home but when she gets married, I don’t think that is necessary.”
He emphasised that when a woman gets married, she changes her name and start answering her husband’s name, becomes somebody’s wife and so should not as she has been legally married.
Although he argued that the daughter can if it is her biological father’s property and not a general family case and insisted that if she gets the property before the death of the father, she should not return it.
“Fathers have the right to Will properties to their daughters if they want. They have equal opportunity as the male children”, he opined.
An entrepreneur, Davies Peter, said a woman can inherit her father’s property while she is alive and after her lifetime, the property should be released to the family.
According to him, since she bears the name of another family, the children shouldn’t continue the inheritance.
He advised that natural justice has to take its course instead of imported law while the laws be properly looked into and maintained that there should be some exception to the interpretation of some of the law as regards Nigeria and Africa generally.
He said although some of the laws are treated based on the fact that women are referred to as the weaker sex and they try to wave certain things.
He cautioned that people should not bring what is impracticable into existence and argued that male and female are not equal.
Mr. Kayode Ojo, an Architect asked: “Don’t you think that when you give a woman land in her father’s house, another one in her husband’s house, it will be too much? 
“ A man and a woman is a family, the husband and the children, so she should inherit in her husband’s house”, he noted.
Although the law supersedes tradition, he said, but that is if he wants to give the land to his daughter, at the end of the day, it is her own and insisted that tradition cannot prove the law wrong.
A pharmacist, Mary Udoh, said that fathers should be sensitised about writing Wills before death, so that if a property is bequeathed to whether a female or male, nobody under the law can take it away from such child.
An engineer, Emeka Obi, said what one may call cultural barriers and taboos is a common problem in Nigeria.
As he puts it: “People’s customs and traditions are peculiar to those who practice them. If according to the way of life of a given people, their daughters don’t have a place in the family inheritance, so be it, but if out of love or goodluck, a father Wills a property to any of his daughters, I have no problem with that”.
A nurse, Mary Uche, in her own view said: “ This is a welcome development. We are more of girls in my house than boys. “Could you believe that we lost our Dad, we the girls buried him but the boys took all the properties. And even if a woman dies, all her properties will be given to the sons’ wives. The only things given to the girls are clothes, if you demand more, they will tell you to go and inherit your husband’s house. If you are single, they will tell you to go and marry”.
The consequence of denying the female child the right of inheritance of father’s property is that if it comes to a situation where she is expected to contribute to family pressures, definitely she will withdraw. 
I’m not sure that any property can be too much to be owned by a woman.  If she has properties both in her father’s house and husband’s home, better for the children; after all, they were not stolen but inherited from grandparents. 
Religious leaders should preach more to the populace on improving the lives of people in the society.
Traditional rulers, NGOs should continually have dialogue and pass the messages down to the grassroots and perhaps to those in the urban centers no matter how learned and their level of exposure.

By: Eunice Choko-Kayode

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