About 100 million widows worldwide still suffer harmful discrimination and obnoxious traditional practices in most parts of the globe, particularly in Nigeria.
The wife of the Rivers State Governor, Dame Judith Amaechi made the revelation in a goodwill message during the commemoration of the International Widows Day in Port Harcourt.
Dame Amaechi lamented that despite the burden widows bear as bread winners of their families after the demise of their husbands they still suffer from malign discrimination.
She however declared that as a deliberate policy to reverse the trend, her pet programme, the Empowerment Support Initiative (ESI) had demonstrated effort to support women and widows.
Consequently, she disclosed that about N600million has been earmarked for disbursement to widows under the present administration in the form of micro-credit loan scheme.
Other initiatives introduced by the government, Dame Amaechi enumerated include commercial taxi loan scheme, soap making for youths, women and widows, as well as rural-based nursery school for less privileged children, particularly children of widows.
She called on the Rivers State House of Assembly to come up with stiffer legislations against all forms of discrimination and inhuman practices against widows.
She also urged the media and civil society to reinvigorate their campaign in the promotion and improvement of widows rights.
Earlier, Speaker of the Rivers State House Assembly, Rt Hon Tonye Harry has tasked the government and private sector to increase their effort to improve healthcare delivery to reduce mortality rate.
He further declared, “even as no one prays to be a widow, we also do not know what tricks life will play on us. We all should therefore see widows in our midst and their families as an extension of ourselves.
Rt Hon Harry stressed the need for legal binding provisions to be made to guide the devolution of estates of their late husbands empowering their wives with gainful employment to mitigate their sufferings.
He promised that the House would ensure that high impact bills are made to protect the right of the widows and children.
Presenting the plight of widows to the Speaker of the House during a protest by the women, Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs Manuela Izunwa underscored the strategic role the assembly could perform to improve the plight of widows.
She requested the House to enact legislations that would empower widows, “no action can rightly arrogate to itself the status of being developed, when women, who in most cases constitute over half of the population are left behind in the development process”, she added.
Mrs. Izunwa lauded the assembly for enacting laws that are gender friendly, especially the dehumanising and harmful traditional practices law No. 2 of 2003.
Primate Ndukuba Lauds Knights Of The Anglican Church
The Primate, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, the Most Rev. Henry Chukwudum Ndukuba, has lauded the Knights of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, for all their efforts in developing and promoting the work of God in the Anglican Church in Nigeria.
He made this commendation at the 23rd edition of the Joint Council of Knights Conference, hosted by the Diocese of Evo, at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, Rumuobiokani Deanery in Port Harcourt.
Ndukuba extolled the Knights as Pillars of the Church in all positive ramifications, while encouraging them to follow the path of service in leadership.
Delivering his goodwill message, the Primate, who doubles as the Chairman of Conference, urged the Knights to participate actively in the electoral process as the country runs fast into another season of general elections.
“Knights as leaders of the Church should participate actively in the electoral processes to effect the overwhelming desire for the birth of a new Nigeria, that would impact positively on our nation”, he said.
The Primate who was represented by the Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Niger Delta, the Most Rev. Blessing Enyidah, concluded by charging the delegates at the conference to use their positions to pray and preach peace in the Church and society.
Earlier in their welcome addresses, the Most Rev. Enyidah and the Bishop of the Diocese of Evo and Knight Superior, Rt. Rev. Innocent Uchechukwu Ordu, extolled the delegates and the entire Council of Knights in the Church of Nigeria for their various demonstrations of leadership in the Church, sacrifices and committments to the work of God.
Other Bishops present took their turns in commending the Knights for their untiring zeal in doing God’s work, while charging them to always lead by service and not to be served, “as illustrated by our Lord Jesus Christ in the holy scriptures”.
A key business of the day’s session was an exposition on the theme, “Not to be served, but to serve” (Luke 22:24-27), by the Rt. Rev. Manasses Okere, Bishop of the Diocese of Ukwa.
The Conference theme Expositor, stated that Man was created to be a relational being and as such originally designed to have a fellowship of equal being and friendship with God.
Rt. Rev. Manasses Okere enjoined the Knights to see true greatness in service and not the benefactor system which is rested on lordship, domination, oppression and other inhuman characteristics displayed by Man.
He opined that greatness in God’s kingdom does not rest on the mindset of status and authority but in manifesting Christlike attributes.
In his goodwill address at the conference, the Executive Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Barr. George Ariolu, appreciated the Church of Nigeria for the opportunity of hosting in one year, three major programmes of the Church in the area, while assuring them of a peaceful stay in the area.
He further assured them of his readiness to always support the work of God and wished them a fruitful and successful session.
Highlight of the day was the valedictory speech of the out-going President General of the Council, Sir Vincent Eta Orhiunu, and presentation of the paraphernalia of office to the new President General of the Joint Council of Knights, Dr Emenike Amobi.
1.6m Nigerians With HIV On Treatment, NACA Confirms
The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has said that 1,619,133 out of the 1.9million Nigerians living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) are now on treatment.
The Director General of NACA, Dr Gambo Aliyu, made this known at a press briefing, yesterday, in Abuja in commemoration of the World AIDS Day themed ‘Equalise to end AIDS: Equal access to treatment and prevention services.’
Aliyu said this year’s WAD seeks to promote equal access across the population that is marginalised among vulnerable and key affected population groups by removing economic, social, cultural, and legal barriers to HIV prevention services across population groups that are vulnerable to HIV.
HIV is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system and if left untreated, it can lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
The WAD is celebrated every December 1 annually to raise awareness, commemorate those who have passed on, and celebrate victories, such as increased access to treatment and prevention services.
Aliyu said, “Nigeria’s success story is evident from the significant dip in the HIV prevalence of 3.4per cent in 2017 to a population-based prevalence of 1.3per cent in 2018.
“As of the end of September, 2022, we have 1,619,133 persons on treatment, which represents a significant leap when compared to 838,020 persons in 2017. Our treatment sites have increased from 251 in 2007 to 2,262 in 2020.
“New HIV infections gradually declined from 103,404 in 2019 to 92,323 in 2021. There has also been significant growth in key population treatment centres from 10 sites in 2017 with coverage of 16,147 to 118 in 2021 with coverage of over 221,010 individuals.”
He added that the pre-COVID-19 molecular laboratory testing sites were 27 but it is now done in over 100 molecular testing sites where the virus can be monitored for prevention and treatment purposes.
“Through our Alignment 2.0, HIV prevention and treatment is shifting ownership to states while guaranteeing continued partnership and support from donors.
“The launch of the N62billion Trust Fund of Nigeria constitutes a further step towards sustained country-level funding and ownership of the national response.
“As we sustain the epidemic control achieved thus far, more focus will be directed at ensuring increased availability, quality, and suitability of services, for HIV treatment, testing, and prevention, so that everyone is well-served.
“Access to prevention, treatment, care, and support services will be intensified for hard-to-reach populations especially those communities circumscribed by conflict,” he noted.
On her part, the National Coordinator of the National AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Infections Control and Hepatitis Programme, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Akudo Ikpeazu, said there is a need to address inequalities that pose a barrier to ending the epidemic.
She said, “Today, we have 90per cent of people living with HIV who know their status, we also have 98per cent of those who know their status on HIV treatment and 95per cent of those on treatment who have achieved viral suppression.
“Despite the availability of free treatment services as of today, we still have an unacceptable number of children less than 15 years living with HIV who are difficult to find and place on treatment. For children, unlike what we have for adults, we have the same statistics, 34per cent (of people living with HIV who know their status), 100per cent of those who know who are on treatment, and 81per cent of those who have achieved viral suppression.
“We need to equalize access to essential services, particularly for children, pregnant women, key population, and their partners. To do this, we must in a consistent manner, address and remove all structural barriers that impact negatively on access to services.
“Some of the specific strides we have made this year in addressing these issues around access include prevention of mother-to-child transmission mapping to identify all places where pregnant women get delivery services to find the HIV pregnant positive women.
“Based on the findings, we are working towards expanding the point of service from the current 6,000 to about 40,000 locations across the 36 states and the FCT. Our aim is to find all pregnant women to test all of them to ensure that all who are positive are placed on treatment and ensure that we can report on every mother who has been tested and placed on treatment.”
Also, the Country Director of UNAIDS, Dr Leo Zekeng, said globally, new HIV infections have declined by about 32per cent and AIDS-related mortality has decreased by about 52per cent because they are tested and put on treatment and can live a normal life.
“We are here today to remind ourselves that AIDS is still an unfinished business. As of last year, 36million people died because of AIDS and we still have 38million adults and children living with HIV/AIDS. So, it is unfinished business,” Zekeng noted.
Police Rescue Abducted Varsity Student
The Police Command in Cross River State on Monday confirmed the rescue of a 24-year-old law student of University of Calabar, by joint security operatives.
Spokesperson of the command, SP Irene Ugbo, who confirmed the development to newsmen in Calabar, said the victim, Deborah Effiom, was rescued from her abductors on Wednesday, September 14, after 13 days in captivity.
Ugbo said the rescue operation following intelligence report was carried out by a combined team of operatives from the Police, Army and Air Force.
She explained that the student was abducted by gunmen from her residence in Calabar Municipality Local Government Area, where she resides with her parents, on August 31, and taken to an unknown destination in her mother’s car.
The Command’s spokesperson disclosed that two of the five suspected kidnappers were killed during the rescue operation.
Ugbo also disclosed that the N5.05 million that was paid as ransom to secure her freedom as well as her mother’s car were also recovered from the abductors.
“They demanded money for their victim’s feeding and N50,000 was paid through a POS operator who is now in our custody.
“They further made a demand of N5 million ransom which was also paid to the POS operator who is their receiver, but they never knew that security operatives were on their trail all along.
“While two of the kidnappers were killed in the process of securing the girl’s release, three others escaped with bullet wounds.”
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