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Ensuring Ideal Nutrition For Nigerians

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The relevance of nutritious food to the evolution, birth,
growth and advancement in the furtherance of successful and purposeful human existence cannot be underplayed. As a range of assorted edible body nourishing materials, food, is not merely consumed just for the fun of it, rather it is intended to fulfill a multiplicity of very vital functions in the human body.
Biologically, the relevance of good food to human growth and sustenance cannot be under emphasized. This explains why human edibles are classifiable into suitable and non-suitable consumables/junk. The suitability of human edibles for body nourishment is to a very large extent dependent on its ability to fulfill certain basic necessities.
Expectedly, good food is meant to help nourish the human body thereby according it strength, good vision/sight, effective and efficient reproductive abiliity, sustained ideal mental alertness, dynamic and reliable intelligent quotient (i.e. IQ), build and enrich the blood, enhance efficient respiratory/metabolic activities to mention but a few of the numerous responsibilities that it is saddled with.
To successfully discharge its onerous biological functions, the befitting human food is expected as a matter of necessity to possess certain characteristics /qualities known in the scientific parlance as nutrients and comprises vitamins, minerals, carbonhydrates, protein, iodine, iron, zink, folic acid, etc.
It is in this regard that the Dr Paul B.Orhii-led National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has resolved to further intensify its commitment towards ensuring appropriate fortification of food for Nigerians’ consumption. This is unquestionably in line with its enabling legal mandate- Decree 15 of 1993 as amended which encompasses the control and regulation of  manufacturing, importation, exportation, distribution, advertisement, sale and use of food.
Conscious of the enormity of its assigned responsibility in this regard the agency swung into action by creating a novel and specialized unit tagged Food and  Applied Nutrition Directorate as well as equipping it with seasoned and sophisticated food scientists/nutritionists to confront and deliver on food fortification ,an engagement which is already yielding enormous progress cum successes.
Mention must be made of the elaborate campaign and intensive enforcement operations of the agency which is currently eradicating the use of Potassium Bromate as baking flower/dough enhancer in Nigerian bakeries owing to its Cancer disease causing ability.
NAFDAC achievements in its dogged efforts at attaining comprehensive salt iodization, a professionalised scientific engagement targeted at ensuring the presence of iodine in table and cooking salt (ie edible salt] and maximally discourage the sale and consumption of the previous ubiquitous and ignorantly sold and exposed industrial salt in the nation’s markets is outrightly commendable.
There is no doubt that the salt in question also tagged; ‘industrial salt’ which is absolutely iodine deficient ,is globally acknowledged as being responsible for brain damage and reduced IQ in children while also causing a human neck deforming disease known as ‘goitre’ and other disorders.
(The evolvement) of a National Food Safety Committee-a focal point on food safety as well as the initiation of a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point plan are all part of efforts to enhance maximised fortification of food for human consumption since we are a reflection of what we consume as food.
Obviously, food products deficient of the required nutrients i.e., vitamins and minerals etc, could lead to malnutrition which explains why NAFDAC is strenuously working to forestall such nasty nutritional occurrence through enriching food vehicles with vitamin ‘A’ and other nutrients. Among these food vehicles being maximally equipped and enriched with the needed nutrients are; sugar, flour, vegitable oil, etc.
In view of the ongoing efforts of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration to develop the nation’s agricultural sector as a very reliable alternative to boosting foreign exchange earnings for Nigeria, the agency has further stepped up its commitment towards boosting the quality of the nation’s exportable agricultural outputs such as cashew nuts, cocoa, cassava, sorghum, melon seed etc.
NAFDAC is consistently impressing on stakeholders in the nation’s food sector the need to adopt and embrace the use of high quality cassava flour in baking of consumable products like bread, cakes, etc.
Hygiene is indeed a critical factor in efficient and effective fortification of food products. This in turn proffers suitable explanations as to why NAFDAC is compelling fast food providing industries, restaurants ,bakeries etc, to embrace good hygienic practices as ignoring such practice will spell doom for the nation via outbreak of food borne ailments since cleanliness they say is next to godliness.
In turn, the current food fortification drive of the nation’s human life elongating agency (NAFDAC) is unquestionably beneficial to the generality of Nigerian populace in numerous ways.
As strength/energy builder cum sustainer, ideal food products also referred to as balanced diet/meals, help provide and guarantee stable and dependable workforce thereby fast tracking a nation’s socio-economic and political development.
Ideally fortified/nutritious food products help the human body to adequately develop diseases resisting mechanisms known as anti-bodies which in turn help it to successfully wade off attacks. Moreover, a healthy nation, is globally rated as a wealthy nation.
Ikhilae is a Lagos-based public affairs analyst.

 

Martins Ikhilae

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Opinion

Before Youths Are Consumed

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It has become expedient for all Nigerians to be subjected to mandatory periodic drug tests, given the high crime rate and the pervasive killings across the land. Honestly, how this proposition can be accomplished remains unclear at the moment.
From time to time Nigeria is rudely reminded that there are issues concerning the mental and psychological state of a good number of citizens, especially youths, in relation to illegal drug consumption. The most recent reminder were the incidents of 1st January 2018 when daredevil cultists and herdsmen effectuated widespread killings in different parts of the country including Rivers State.
Drug use and abuse are obvious reasons why many youths have taken to heinous crimes. Hard drugs are the source of dangerous crimes and health problems in our society today. Because of their regular abuse, drug-related incarceration has increased in the country’s prisons.
What is drug abuse? It is the deliberate use of chemical substances for reasons other than their intended medical purposes which results in physical, mental, emotional or social impairment of the user. In other words, drug abuse can happen when they are used illegitimately.
Why are many Nigerian youths taking to massive drug consumption as a way of life? There are two primary reasons for it. These are peer group influence and depression. Another reason for the huge drug intake is ignorance. Many drug addicts believe they need hard drugs to feel good. So, they are taken as routine medicines.
That is why the fight against the plague has to be intensified before our youths are consumed. The National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have to be up and doing in this legendary battle by preventing the sale of pernicious drugs in the country.
Both agencies must ensure that dangerous drugs like codeine, tramadol, diazepam etc. are only sold upon presentation of doctor’s prescription to prevent their abuse. Punitive measures have to be instituted against erring medical doctors in this regard.
It is hard for anyone to dispute the expansive deglutition of hard drugs in Nigeria, especially in the northern part of the country. For instance, recently released statistics indicate that about three million codeine are consumed in Kano and Jigawa States annually.
The situation is so awful that some residents of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in North East are involved in this misconduct. While girls take dangerous cough mixtures and other drugs with codeine to get ‘high’, boys use cocaine, heroine and Indian hemp.
Indian hemp is the most frequently expended drug perhaps because it is home-grown and so easily accessible. It is also cheap. Because of its effect in mood alterations, poor and uneducated youths have found ally in it to their detriment.
Precarious drugs are ingested in virtually all sections of the country. For example, between October and November last year, officials of the NDLEA, Bayelsa State Command, arrested 77 illicit drug suspects. The command says tramadol, codeine and diazepam were among drugs absorbed by youths in the state.
Youths who are into drug abuse have to be educated on their effects more so when it has been established that reckless use of hard drugs can destroy kidneys and make the victims vulnerable to cancer. It also leads to increase in crime rate, mental disorder, child abuse, domestic violence, rape as well as homelessness and poverty.
For these reasons, access to illicit drugs must be restricted. Unrestricted access to drugs and poor regulatory framework are part of the reasons for the astronomical increase in their unauthorised use. Governments and law enforcement agencies in the country must obviate this.
Additionally, the existence of many unregistered and illegal medicine outlets and open drug markets all over the country make it easier for Nigerians to source some of these drugs without prescription.
The recurring hazard of drug misuse and abuse is taking unprecedented toll on the health of consumers. What the development requires is immediate erection of rehabilitation centers across the country to assist in quick rehabilitation of drug addicts.
To check this trend, governments and all stakeholders must collaborate and design ways to prevent access to dangerous substances. Also, drug regulation must be made stronger to thwart distribution chains. Open drug markets in major cities have to be identified and dismantled as well.
Nigerians should be properly enlightened on the dangers of hard drugs and be made to purchase drugs with prescription from only registered pharmacies as is the case in civilised climes. NAFDAC and NDLEA have so much to do in this regard. They have to synergise to stem the wanton abuse of drugs that promote high crime rate currently experienced in the country.

 

Arnold Alalibo

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ASUU, CONUA And ABN Phenomenon

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The Tide newspaper, Monday, October 7, 2019, carried a headline: Splinter Group Emerges in ASUU (P.16). Anybody who knows the antics of mischief makers would not find it difficult to understand that Nigeria has been under the spell of “spoilers” for quite a long time. Similarly anybody who has taken keen interest in crisis management strategies may have come across the local version of the “divide-and-rule strategy, called “Okamike factor”.
Current emergence of a splinter group among Nigerian university lecturers under the name “Congress of University Academics” (CONUA), had long been expected. What the wider public should be told is the operational strategy of paid agents who play the role of “spoilers”. Sponsorship of such groups can be traced to political authorities or the establishment. Their spoiling roles and activities cut across public establishments and labour unions.
An Association for Better Nigeria (ABN) emerged years ago as a countervailing force of extra-patriotic Nigerians. Members of that group were so patriotic that they spoiled the ambition of a Presidential aspirant whom they were paid to spoil. Their activities went further to plunge Nigeria into deeper political crisis and also resulted in the early death of a naïve female Justice who got involved in the spoiling game. Thanks to injection of military stratagem into civil politics!
Unknown to the Nigerian public, there emerged a voodoo system of crisis management, strongly consolidated via the use of a faceless cabal. Readers of this article would find it instructive to trace the whereabouts of the ABN voodoo master and his current state of health. Interview him if possible. The triumph of evil is usually short-lived and pyrrhic. So, let it be with Dr Faruk!
Of more concern to the reader is the pattern of selection of willing tools in the service of the cabal. There is a growing evidence of the stereotype about some ethnic groups being ready to sell their souls for money, becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy. When the spoiling virus found its way to a professor of virology for being responsible for the nation’s economic adversity by taking a cup of tea and gold wrist watch as a gift, keen watchers knew that the game was one-sided and political.
In the case of the university system, the game played out via Professor Ben Nwabueze’s theory of “Imperfect Obligation”, whose motive was to annul an agreement between ASUU and the Federal Government. A similar strategy of annulment of an election result via the ABN voodoo antics also succeeded. It was not an issue of concern that there arose divisions and animosities among lecturers, and a national crisis arising from arbitrary annulment of an election. What was important was momentary victory.
The use of willing tools and fifth columnists as spoilers goes with some reward, via unmerited promotions, political appointments or some other personal gains. In the case of universities, the spoiling game resulted in managing the institutions like fiefdoms and labour camps. This was followed by a system of witch hunt, ostensibly to root-out radicalism in the campuses. In the old Rivers State Unviersity of Science and Technology, team-spirit and collegiality were destroyed via the use of an “Integrity” group. A Vice-Chancellor would not have the courtesy of listening to any advice of older colleagues who taught him a few years ago.
There is no doubt that there was a deliberate process of installing the divide-and-rule strategy as an establishment practice. A vital part of its implementation included the use of “big stick” to make any recalcitrant radical to tow the establishment line. The strategy has continued to work, thanks to dealers and wheelers in compilation of secret personal dozzier. In the case of universities, some Vice-Chancellors used cultists and female church members to feed their personal computers with unverified information about staff who are not in their “good book”.
Obviously, any establishment managed through gossip peddling and boot-licking strategies would breed and encourage divisions and animosities among the staff. The role of politics in these malpractices is that those who engage in them are being rewarded for previous exploits, or do so with the hope to be rewarded thereafter. The over-all consequence is that efficiency and cooperation among a workforce become seriously undermined.
In the past 41 years of the existence of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), all internal crises have always had external political influences. It is quite sad that ethnic and religious influences can also create divisions among such enlightened workforce as the ASUU. Now even private universities are not immune from the spoiler virus.
While individuals may differ widely according to numerous factors, commitment and loyalty to the goals and objectives of the organization that an individual work for should not waver. But the spoiler virus destroys personal conviction and commitment, thus rendering the strategy of management by use of a cabal dangerous. Same strategy is playing out in Rivers State electoral matters, via the current AAC/APC/Army alliance.
Why nothing works out effectively in Nigeria is largely due to what a researcher described as “Okamike factor”. If an incompetent dabbler confronts you with a big stick and money and tells you that he knows and can perform better, what would you do? Fight him; go to court to challenge him, or resign your appointment? In the Nigerian experience, money being such a great soldier, would easily resolve the crisis. But the society pays a sad price for such gangsterist system of management of national affairs. This is exactly what had unwittingly been installed in Nigeria’s public establishments. It has evolved from mafia to cabal. It is not relenting or about to stop. Its sponsors are strong!
Dr. Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

 

Bright Amirize

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Opinion

Need To Maintain Our Institutions

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Nigeria is a sovereign nation and all hands must be on deck to maintain its sovereignty. To achieve this, a number of infrastructural developement must be put in place. The ideology of sovereignty of any nation is to make things possible for the citizens. Since Independence till date there has been slow pace of development in the country. This is as a result of nonchalant attitude of the leaders in government and some citizens when projects are awarded for execution. Often times, when it comes to solving problems for the masses what you hear is that there is no political will to enforce the policy. One wonders the kind of political will our leaders need before things are put in place. The deposit of mineral resources in the land of Nigeria is a good omen for national development.
The education sector has been drifting from its original aims and objectives. This is because the system is no longer meeting the expectations of the nation. In any sovereign nation, education is the door way of achieving purposeful development. Through research works in education, other sectors are managed effectively and efficiently. The falling standard of education caused by neglect of the sector has caused emigration of Nigerian students to neighbouring nations, thereby, denying our educational institutions funds to upgrade their facilities. Today, most of the leaders and well-to-do in Nigeria send their children and wards to Ghana, the US and the UK for university education.
It is true that no nation is an island. But that does not mean we should abandon our country for foreign facilities.
Indeed, the power or energy sector is one of the sectors begging for massive improvement and upgrading of facilities. The federal government has said so much about improvement of power in the country. Yet no meaningful achievement has been recorded. And if the government is ready to improve power in Nigeria, there is no need for the federal government to budget for generators for Aso Rock or government buildings. That is suspicious! In Nigeria, generators have taken over the power sector. And so each time generators are mentioned in the budget there is need for doubt. Over the years, Nigerians have been complaining of poor power supply in the country. And to many the cry against epileptic electricity supply is waste of time. All the processing and manufacturing industries use electricity from generators to power their machines. But in some countries of the world there is constant supply for decades. No wonder some companies are relocating to neighboring countries where electricity supply is relatively constant. Recently, there was bidding for electricity facilities in the country. There is no need for further delay in ensuring efficiency in the power sector. Therefore, power should not be toyed with, if Nigeria wants to be one of the biggest economies in the world. Everyone needs electricity in Nigeria.
Nigeria has been known as a developing nation for many years now and has not achieved tangible development, due to some nefarious activities of some persons in government and outside government. Nigeria has a wide road network but yet the roads in the country are in deplorable state, which gives room for questions. Nigerians enjoy pot holes-free roads in UK, the US and other nations of the world. But when road projects are awarded to some of them to construct as it is done in foreign nations, some siphon the funds or use poor quality materials to construct roads in the country. Today our federal roads are begging for reconstruction and rehabilitation, because they are very bad. And those who do the shoddy jobs are applauded and more multimillion projects are awarded to them to continue the bad jobs. Something has to be done to stop the ugly trend of events in the country. Because the roads are bad, motorists take the opportunity to charge commuters heavily. This also has led to high cost of commodities and has weakened the purchasing power of many Nigerians . Indeed, most of the staple foods we eat in the country are imported from foreign nations. For instance, Nigeria depends on imported rice till date when there are arable lands for rice farming in the country. Abakaliki rice is still under peasant farming system till today because government has not taken any proactive measure to improve rice farming in the country. There is need for concerted effort by all to change the state of things in the country.
Health for all has been a long time slogan which no one wants to sing or recite again because of the inability of the government to deliver health services to the people. It is still very sad to hear that Nigerians can only get better medical treatment abroad. Why? Nigeria has the resources that could make her health system the best in the world. Today, cancer screening machine is rare to come by in the country. Few months ago there was outbreak of Lassa fever in some states of the nation. And it was a difficult task to get treatment, because the machine to screen a victim’s blood sample is only in Benin. And it was reported that Lassa fever was first noticed before independence of our dear nation.
Indeed, today we fund foreign health system and they keep on growing faster than ours. Almost every government functionary receives his or her medical check up abroad. That is why our health sector is dying even when we have professionals to make it work. It is high time our leaders pondered anew to change some things. The national and state assemblies should enact laws that should make the government to improve its facilities. Over dependence on foreign institutions when we need to improve and develop the ones we have is a serious threat to democracy. Therefore, there is need for government at all levels to embark on an aggressive campaign on infrastructural development in the nation. Nigerians can enjoy the best if there is honesty and selfless service to humanity.
Ogwuonuonu wrote in from Port Harcourt.

 

Frank Ogwuonuonu

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