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Battling Measles In Bayelsa



This sickness was heard of, first in December last year and we noticed that the disease was spreading from house to house and a few deaths recorded by some families, we informed the health department of the local government area. A health personnel was sent to ascertain the situation, take record and report back for possible response.

When Morris Alagoa, a human rights activist, and representative of Environmental Rights Action, (ERA) group in Bayelsa State brought the story, it was like a fairy incident that happened in medieval period. Who will believe that at this age, scores of children could still die of measles epidemic when the disease has almost been eradicated in some communitiesin the country.

What happened to the regular national immunisation programme against the five killer diseases. Is somebody failing in his duties to provide healthcare for these rural folks. Questions, as you peruse the photographs of a gory story of children in agony and their mums who wear long faces.

In other to convince oneself that the story was not made-up, The Tide On Sunday decided to follow one Morris  Alagoa to visit some of the worst affected communities in Southern Ijaw Local Government of Bayelsa State, for a first hand information.

Southern Ijaw Local Government Area is in Bayelsa Central Senatorial district, and believed to belong to the club of largest LGAs in the country.

Most of the communities could only be accessed through the use of river crafts or helicopter (for oil company staff that dot the area). The people are Ijaws whose occupation are mainly fishing and farming. They are also engaged in canoe carving, weaving, hunting and palm wine tapping. A very hard working people. Even women are not left out as they explore their environment and explore the natural resources to full advantage.

This is a period when most people clear new farmlands and plant their crops and also bail their fish ponds, but all that has been put to a temporary stop, as the care of sick child became more important to some parents and guidance.

 So when the news of outbreak of the disease reached ERA, Morris Alagoa, stated that directive was given to the field officers to ascertain the story. “What we saw was too serious; he said we had to alert the media”.

Although transport was a serious logistic problem, hence, we were handicapped to visit only the most seriously affected communities of Oporoma, the local government area’s headquarter, Angiana, Ikebiri, Ondewari, Korokorosei Ogboinbiri, Okpotuwari, Umbugbene and Oweikoroghe. Somehow, Ondewari seemed to be worst stricken by the disease.

At Ondewari, a young mother was asked, about the loss of her child. She looked directly at the reporter and restarted. “Have you ever lost a child, how you felt at that moment. The way you feel, is the way I am feeling now, but if you have not, you won’t understand”. With that tears dropped freely from her eyes. Chief Bountin Igburu, a former chairman of the community’s council of chief, said” yes, “we have experienced measles in the community. The outbreak has spread to Oporoma, even in my house there is an affected child now. Several other children have also contracted the disease. As expected, parents are struggling with the situation to save their children.

To Chief Egberibin Jacom, the current chairman, the situation would have been worst but for an ill-equipped health centre, which also lacks modernity, the casualty rate would have been greater.

In Angiama, most of the child victims wears the “colour” of a roasted yam, they did not look pale but very weak and unable to eat. At Ogboinbriri, the community’s secretary, attributed the quick spread of the disease to self medication. According to him, when the disease was first notice it was not brought to public notice until has reached the present proportion,” but we were lucky to have a “small health centre”  that is managing the situation.

The measles outbreak, as people of Ondewari puts it, has reached an epidemic proportion in their community. Everyone who spoke on the matter sounded the same. Launching the death of children in the community, Chief Boro Abini said “this sickness was heard of, first in December last year and we noticed that the disease was spreading from house to house and a few deaths recorded by some families, we informed the health department of the local government area. A health personnel was sent to ascertain the situation, take record and report back for possible response.”

“The man actually spent a whole night with us taking records of the affected, those likely to be affected and the dead ones. We mobilised and facilitated the process with hope that the council at the end will come to our rescue”.

“When he left that was all, we are yet to see any other health officials even though we have tried all avenue to report the seriousness of the situation to those in authority.”

It is said, however, to note that since the health officer from the local government departed we have not seen any response from the authorities.

The present situation is that children are dying daily in the town. Children within the ages of two and four years are the most sufferers, especially those dying. Children within that age bracket are all looking frail in the community. You can see this yourself as you go round the town.

Mr. Tontiemotel Yeiyei (secretary of the community), I am over forty years and I have spent a greater part of my life in this town. But I confess that we have not experienced this kind of situation before. It is not as if we have not had other health situations that were equally bad as there was a time we experienced cholera outbreak. Bt in all, we                        have not seen this type that has claimed the lives of many children. Just within two months this community alone have lost 40 children between the ages of two and four years. It has reached an epidemic level and the situation is beyond us. As you may be aware, we just buried a corpse this morning. We have been burying dead children every other day, sometimes two in a day. Some families have lost two children within days; for instance, the family of Charles Igoniwari lost their two children recently. As a result most parents are not happy, hence, they are not willing to answer you if you go and ask them question about their dead children, and they would ask if you have come to laugh at them”.

“The disease was first noticed in a neighbouring town of Okpotuwari, just across the river. And because we have some chemists in this community the people of Okpotuwari brought their infected children here to get drugs and treatment. And all of a sudden our children were stricken by the disease” he lamented.

The symptoms started spreading from house to house and, after a few deaths were recorded, we sought for help by reaching out to the local government authorities. Unfortunately they are yet to respond positively. They only hunt for eatable maggots which I sell for cash before I attend to any other thing. That is how I make a living. Even yesterday I had to rush into the forest to check one dead raffia palm to get some of my stuffs before I came back to attend to the sick children. While in the bush my mind was always agitated, thinking about the health of my children, more so, as most parents have lost their children recently. I am really confused. And I don’t have money to take the children away in search of treatment. I am just struggling to meet up with the kind of treatments we know here.”

Apart from a health centre under construction in the community which, according to community folk, was started about a month ago, some parents were actually seen either personally injecting their measles stricken children or engaging the services of a relation or neighbour to inject the children. Besides, some of the children (often naked) were seen lying on the laps of their parents appearing very frail and with rashes, making slight sounds with each breath they took; showing the discomforting nature of what they are passing through.

As at last Monday, the communities gave a “consensus figure” alleging that 150 children have died so far, this does not include the 25 that died in early January. However, as stated earlier, World  Health Organisation (WHO) through the Doctors Without Boarder has responded to the distress call, but their efforts are being hampered by logistics.

At Oporoma, the council’s headquarter, neither chairman nor the Health Officer in charge  could be reached for comment nor could any one volunteer their cell phone number, a security guard, who chose to be anonymous but claimed to be an ex-serviceman said “Oga journalist, these people you’re asking for are visiting staff. Go to Yenagoa and look for them”.

But recently, the state Commissioner of Health Dr. Azibapu Eruani told some selected journalists in office that the situation has been brought to normal, and a team of medical personnel was dispatch to the area and further spread of the diseases but the recent outbreak seems to have contradict what Eruani claimed.

Although several efforts have been made as to have him comment on the recent incident without success as his cell phone continue saying “not available”.

While there are several oil firms operating in the area, the community leaders are saying non of have shown interest in the seeming calamity they are contending with.

As it is now, only God’s intervention would save the communities from further agony, as scores of children aged between two and 15 have already gone. But, the question remains will government reshows non-challant attitude while this “unwanted visit” remains unchallenged?  Where then lies its health policy for the people?


Aaron Fynface

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NPA Pledges Safe Navigation Of Vessels On Warri Pilotage District



The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has assured navigational safety for all stakeholders operating legally in the Warri Pilotage District, despite the urgent need for breakwater reconstruction.
This is just as NPA pilots enabled the safe berthing of inbound vessels – MT Zonda and MT Stellar as well as outbound vessel MT Duke, MT Vardar and MT Igbinosa last week with six vessels at anchorage outbound and inbound for Bonny Island, Koko and Escravos.
NPA stated that although the Escravos breakwaters constructed to prevent the siltation of the Warri channels had collapsed decades ago, it has concluded the survey and mapping of the channel.
The authority also noted that it is at the conclusive stages of securing relevant approvals for the best financing option to fund its reconstruction and has put measures in place to ensure safe berthing of legally operating vessels in the spirit of trade facilitation.
The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko, said the up-to-date local and international training as well as simulation and maneuverability competence building of the highly experienced pilots of the NPA, have ensured zero incidences of vessels running aground.
Bello-Koko said the authority had procured and installed adequate buoys for the Warri channel and realigned the entrance buoys as well as docked and reclassified vessels.
He said the authority has also stipulated frequent simulation training and retraining for all the pilotage crew to enable them to respond to the exigencies of the channel.
According to him, the occasionally reported incidents of vessels running aground cannot impede the channel, as they are vessels operating illegally without NPA’s marine pilot onboard.
He said the vessels ran aground because they veered off the channel and safety-marked areas due to incompetence.
Bello-Koko said to enhance domain awareness capability to detect and frontally keep illegal vessels at bay, the authority recently awarded consultancy for the installation of Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) across all its port locations with the first phase already completed.

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Most popular toys in 2018



Every year some toys emerge as popular among children across all ages. These toys are considered a “must have” by most kids and are often on their Christmas wish list. The year 2018 is no different with some toys making it to the favorite list of most children. Most times, the toys vary in terms of size, color and design giving kids a chance to choose the ones that appeal to them. Nevertheless, it is essential to start your shopping early to get the best deals without having to stretch the available funds.

What to look for when buying toys in 2018

Apart from having your kids’ preferences in mind when purchasing toys in 2018, you should also check if they are suitablefor children.Some of the things you should consider when buying toys are listed below.

  • Age of child – Most toys have a label that indicates the age of the child that is allowed to play with them. Ensure that you read the label before buying a toy, so that gets all the benefits meant to be derived from using it. Age-appropriate toys contribute to the development of children, making it vital that they get the right type of plaything.
  • Safety – Majority of the favorite toys can be a great addition to your child’s collection in 2018. However, it is essential to check the toys for corners, sharp edges, and harmfulpoints which might not have been mentioned on the warning label. Toys that are easy to dismantle and have loose parts should also be vetted to see whether they are appropriate for the child. Focus on buying toys that cannot lead to injuries and are durable for different kinds of play.
  • Affordability-The price of toys vary from one store to another, with some being cheap and others quite expensive. When going shopping, have a budget that will guide the quality and quantity of toys that you can purchase for your children. You can consider buying one expensive toy that is their favorite and adding others that are low cost to achieve a balance.
  • Versatility –Toys that can only be used for a short time or appeal to children of a specific age group may not be the best ones to buy for kids. Go for toys that can be used to entertain and educate the child over a long period without them getting bored.
  • Durability –Most children, especially toddlers enjoy picking apart toys as a way for them to explore its workings. It is therefore vital to buy toys that made from sturdy material, and all their parts are screwed on tightly so that they are not easily spoilt. Also, ensure that paint used on the toys do not easily peel off and are non-toxic.

Top 6 favorite toys in 2018

The number of toys launched in 2018is many with several appealing to both boys and girls of different ages. Some of the toys that have been ranked as favorites this year include:

  • LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts Great Hall Building Kit

The game is designed to resemble Hogwarts Great Hall Building in the popular Harry Potter movie. It is 878 pieces which when arranged reveal the Great Hall which is a famous building in the film. Some of the pieces that stand out are the treasure room, spiral staircase, and potions room. Popular figurines are also part of the set with characters such as Nearly Headless, Nick, Harry Potter, Albus Dumbledore, Ron Weasely, Hagris, Draco, Professor NacGonagall and Susan Bones among others.

  • Barbie Care Clinic Vehicle

Barbie has been part of the favorite toy list for many years, and in 2018 she is in charge of a mobile clinic. She has a twenty piece set that includes a gift shop, exam room and waiting room which are used to tackle emergencies of varying magnitudes. The ambulance in the collection has lights as well as siren sounds that are turned on using a button which is quite exciting for kids who are three years and older.

  • Paw Patrol – Ultimate Rescue Fire Truck

Kids that love the Paw Patrol cartoon will enjoy playing with the truck whose sounds, and flashing lights keep them entertained. The truck has a Marshall who sits in the cab looking out but can also jump into the fire cart when they need to rescue animals. The extendable ladder and working claw are fun to use to save animals stuck in trees.

  • Smart Learning Home

Fisher price has always focused on making playtime fun for babies for many years. In 2018, they introduced a toy that helps small children learn about the weather, numbers, and shapes. The interactive toy also has sounds, music, and lights to keep your baby entertained. To find out more about interactive toys for babies, visit

  • Sesame Street Lets Dance Elmo

Elmo is loved by many children that have interacted with him and his friends on the Sesame Street show. In 2018, he is dancing and grooving to different types of music, making him an excellent toy for children working on their motor skills. The toy has musical modes namely songs, colors and animals which gives kids a variety to choose from. When the modes are changed, Elmo begins to wiggle, or dance and the color on his heart begins to turn as well.

  • Radio Flyer busy buggy

Toddlers that are active and always on the move will enjoy having this ride-on toy. The carriage has several features that make its fun to ride over short distances. Some of the fancy features that make it one of the most interactive toys in 2018 include an adjustable dashboard, horn, moving windshield, and sliding beads among others. Active youngsters get to develop their motor skills as they cruise within the home while adjusting their reflective mirror.

Overall, no matter the choice of toys you buy for your children, ensure that they are educational, fun and safe.


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CRFFN Registers 5000 Freight Forwarders




More than 5,000 freight forwarders have so far registered with the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarders in Nigeria (CRFFN) in its on-going membership drive.

The CRFFN Director (Education and Research),  Mr Alban Igwe,  told our correspondents  on Thursday in Lagos that the initiative was part of efforts to re-organise the freight forwarding business in Nigeria.

He said that freight forwarders, who failed to register with the council, would at the end of the exercise be regarded as fake businessmen.

According to him, the council plans to enforce its operational code which allows only registered members to practise.

“The registration, which started last year, is on-going. The enforcement, which should have started already, will start shortly as soon as all logistics are on ground.

“We have a tribunal that will try all illegal freight forwarders and any forwarder found guilty will be sentenced.

“Education of freight forwarders continues because over 70 per cent involved in the business do not have more than school certificate,” he said.

Igwe said that the association had concluded plans to conduct intensive training across the country in line with the provision of the Act that established the council.

He said that education remained the key role of the CRFFN in assisting freight forwarders to acquire professional skills and knowledge.

Igwe said that the council had signed memoranda of understanding with 10 training institutions to facilitate achievement of this objective.

The CRFFN Director also said that the training programme had made it possible for interested freight forwarders to acquire PHD degrees, stressing that the era of quacks had gone.

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