Stigma and discrimination are factors that stop many people from owning up to their HIV status and also stop them from availing themselves for testing and accessing treatment and care.
The Coordinator of the Civil Society for HIV and AIDS in Nigeria (CISHAN), Rivers State chapter, Mr Dennis Otabo, disclosed this in an interview with newsmen in Port Harcourt.
He said “the issue of discrimination and stigma was still very high due to our cultural system, myths and beliefs regarding the condition.
“HIV is still perceived as a death sentence and there are people who still believe that the condition is acquired mainly by those who engage in immoral acts, not knowing that there are many other ways of contracting it.”
According to him, the effect of stigma and discrimination has made some positive people to leave their areas of residence to other states to access Anti-RetroViral (ARV) medication.
He added that the fear of the unknown prevented many people from going for test, noting that stigma manifest at various levels, ranging from individual, family, community and institutions.
He disclosed that stigmatisation in the communities were exhibited in the form of social isolation and name calling, while the family form of discrimination ranges from restriction to family events and the individual being treated like an outcast.
He said that some positive individuals also stigmatise themselves, blaming selves for contracting the virus, and called for increased awareness, especially among adolescents and youths.
Otabo explained that “Rivers has many HIV/AIDS clubs in secondary schools to enlighten students about the dreaded virus and to do away with inaccurate information and misconceptions about it.
“The aim of such clubs is to create adequate sensitisation, especially adolescents, and to mitigate the issue of stigma to the barest minimum”.
He stated the need for HIV Information Education and Communication (IEC) materials to be used in educating different target groups such as the adolescents, pregnant women and the public on ways to prevent, care and manage HIV/AIDS.
The CISHAN coordinator said that the materials were meant to be readily available both in the hard and soft copy format, noting that UNICEF and other foreign partners were turning attention to the younger ones.
According to him if people aren’t stigmatised, they will be willing to disclose their status and access healthcare in their environment and more persons will ascertain their status.
He said it was imperative that government enforced the HIV/AIDS Anti-Discrimination Act of 2014, pointing out that zero discrimination would enable people to be open about their status and be willing to access healthcare.
Varsity Bursar Gets Confidence Vote
Members of Joint Assembly of Rivers State Youths, have passed a vote of confidence on the Bursar of Ignatius Ajuru University of Education (IAUOE), Mr Karibi Ikiriko over prudent financial management of the University.
The leader of the body, Comrade Gershon Anchor said this when the group paid a courtesy visit on the Bursar at the University premises in Port Harcourt
The body, also known as an ‘Assembly of tested activists’, drawn from the 23 Local Government Areas of the state , said the act became imperative in order to spur Ikiriko to more action.
“Our aim was to congratulate Mr Ikiriko for being part of the developmental upsurge in the citadel of learning”, he said.
According to him, such would not have been possible without a law abiding citizen of his caliber whom he said was endowed with financial prudence cum management.
Meanwhile, the group has thanked God, the Kalabaris, and the university authority for giving them one of the finest brains to do such a strategic job.
They also thanked Governor Nyesom Wike for setting the ball of infrastructural development rolling in the state.
In his response, Ikiriko charged the youths to stay off crime, and learn how to pursue their cause lawfully.
He pointed out that no one had benefited from crime, thus the need to remain law abiding.
“I thank the youths for finding me worthy of the visit and I promise to do my best in the area of service to humanity, which cannot be done in an unlawful environment”, he said .
He charged the youths to continue to support the Governor Nyesom Wike-led government as their contribution to the development of the state.
By: King Onunwor
Group Wants Ekpeye People To Pursue Common Goal
A group under the aegis of Ekpeye Oil and Gas (EOG) has marked its 2nd anniversary amid pomp and pageantry, in Ahoada in Ahoada East Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The ceremony was attended by sons, daughters and well-meaning individuals all over Ekpeye land.
Addressing the mammoth crowd, Chairman of Ekpeye Oil and Gas, Comrade Chidi Dogini stated among other things that the association cut across oil, gas and pipeline host communities in Ekpeyeland, which major objectives include emancipation and liberation of Ekpeye from oil politics of multinational companies. According to him, since EOG’s registration on 19th September, 2019, the struggle has been tough.
Comrade Dogini enjoined the people to pursue a common goal of redeeming Ekpeye ethnic nation from shackles of long suffering, negligence and deprivation from oil companies operating across the length and breadth of Ekpeyeland tended to balkanise the people. He stressed that the ugly trend spurred some individuals who have the collective interest of Ekpeye at heart to pull resources together without minding the price to be paid in order to create such a formidable body in Ekpeye kingdom.
The national chairman said, when they came on board, many perceived them not only as child’s play, but with inordinate ambition to usurp power for personal aggrandisement. According to him, reckoning from the association’s glaring antecedents and genuine intensions the narrative was changed.
He promised that Ekpeyeland would witness economic fortunes in the nearby future if all hands would be on deck.
“As long as the laws of Federal Republic of Nigeria are concerned, as long as the petroleum industry act (PIA) is concerned, I will fight the oil companies that will not listen to the body,” Dogini said.
“In the midst of surplus, Ekpeye man has no Job; in the midst of surplus, Ekpeye man was treated with levity, and they armed our youths with matchets and guns to fight ourselves, while they make merry with our oil money,” he lamented.
“They say, ‘an injury to one is an injury to all. I call on all Ekpeye sons and daughters to join in this struggle to liberate Ekpeye,” Dogini said.
The highly elated chairman pointed out ten achievements which the association has recorded over the years which include successful demonstration against Morpol Engineering Ltd and Shell Petroleum Development Company by host communities; acceptance by Agip of ownership of pipeline along with NLNG pipeline right of way; public relation projects in NLNG host communities among others.
The chairman also hinted that upcoming events would comprise remediation of Ekpeyeland and water; general security summit; special training scheme on oil and gas for critical stakeholders in Ekpeyeland and others.
Earlier in his opening speech, EOG’s public relations officer, Comrade Austin Ijeoma reiterated the mission and vision of EOG; noting that they have not derailed in their functions. He thanked God for endowing Ekpeye with oil and gas.
The P.R.O remarked further among other things that the power of the association was vested on the villages. According to him, EOG could excel if members take the association seriously by responding to calls as well as informing the body on the happenings around them.
High points of the occasion include induction of Ogbele community youth executives; presentation of EOG progress report; refreshment among others.
However, in a vote of thanks, Mr Johnbull Agbedu, Akoh clan branch chairman of EOG thanked the attendees for being part of the colourful celebration. He also reminded the participants to send the message to their respective communities.
By: Emenike Agimo
Foundation Lists Achievements
The O. B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation, one of Nigeria’s leading humanitarian organisations has clocked 20 years of charitable work in the country.
According to a statement by Oraye St. Franklyn, the spokesperson to the Chairman, Board of Trustees of O. B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation, Dr. Seinye Lulu-Briggs, the Foundation was established on the 21st of September, 2001 by Dr. Seinye O. B. Lulu-Briggs, to institutionalise the philanthropy of her husband, High Chief Dr. O. B. Lulu-Briggs.
The statement stated that the foundation had in the last two decades, in keeping with global goals of the United Nations, gone on to leave indelible imprints in the lives of several people across the country, especially in communities within Niger Delta region.
“With a mission to implement sustainable interventions that enhance the quality of life for under-served persons, the O. B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation continues to offer hope, succour and support to at-risk and vulnerable persons. It achieves its mission through Five distinct programmes which include its flagship eldercare programme: Care For Life and its Free Medical Mission, a 5 day pop-up health camps held in peri-urban and rural communities”.
According to the statement, the 20th anniversary celebration would be marked by a series of year-long events that begin with a thanksgiving service that held Sunday, at the Chapel of God Int’l Worship Center in Port Harcourt.
“A one-day Free Eye Clinic will also hold on Thursday the 23rd of September 2021 to offer free eye care to members of the public. Other events lined up for the yearlong celebrations are a Law Clinic scheduled for the 24th of November 2021. The Law Clinic will ride on the back of the foundation’s landmark investments in law education in the last 13 years. It would see members of the Foundation’s Law School Grants Alumni, in the company of legal luminaries, giving back to society through pro bono services on that day,” Oraye revealed.
The statement also enjoined members of the public to take advantage of the free eye clinic for their eye checks and treatment.
The high point of the 20th anniversary celebrations according to the statement would be an anniversary lecture and gala night to hold in February 2022.
According to him, the gala night would appreciate the volunteers, staff and partners of the foundation who have contributed immensely to its 20-year success. The event would also signpost the direction of the foundation for the next twenty years especially in the face of new and emerging global humanitarian challenges.
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