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Reducing Accidents On Our Roads

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Although transporta
tion has liberated man from static ways of life, making him more mobile, his increasing reliance on road transportation, in particular, has facilitated the expansion of the scope of his activities.
In spite of the myriad advantages of road transportation as the commonest and most extensively used form of transportation, the spate of road traffic accidents, the world over, has remained a source of concern to many observers.
Without doubt, road traffic accidents have been the focus of great international concern, as accidents on the roads are the major cause of deaths all over the world.
Concerned observers note that the Nigerian situation appears dire, saying that it has reached an alarming proportion, even to the point of frustration and near helplessness.
This, according to them, is because Nigeria continues to feature in the list of countries that are mostly affected by road accidents.
For instance, the former Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, in 2012 quoted a report of the World Health Organisation (WHO) as indicating that Nigeria had the second highest road traffic accident fatalities among 193 countries under the study’s focus.
Chukwu said that Nigeria recorded 162 deaths per 100,000 road traffic accidents, adding that the trend was adversely affecting the country’s health system.
Sharing similar sentiments, the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), which also cited the same WHO report, said that in terms of deaths caused by road accidents, Nigeria was the second worst country in the world.
The commission noted that the report indicated that road accidents now accounted for more deaths than malaria and tuberculosis.
Observers, however, say that reckless driving, wrong overtaking, excessive speeding and overloading of vehicles are some of the major causes of road accidents in the country.
They also note that some motorists engage in drunk driving or use of hard drugs, adding most Nigerian drivers are also guilty of always being in a hurry.
However, Mrs Susan Ajenge, the FRSC Sector Commander in the FCT, said that the commission had initiated some measures to address the menace, adding that the FCT Command of the FRSC had taken steps to enforce the extant ban on the sale of alcohol at motor parks.
She said that the command was already working with transport unions at the parks and the police, in efforts to ensure the relocation of liquor sellers from motor parks so as to promote safety on the highways.
Ajenge blamed most of the road traffic accidents in the country to drunkenness and recklessness on the part of motorists.
Observers commend the FRSC for its efforts to promote road safety and restore sanity on the nation’s roads.
They note that the FRSC have arraigned many motorists before mobile courts for possession of fake driver’s licence, number plates and hard drugs, among other offences.
A health information management consultant, Dr Akin Adana, noted that many motorists across the country did not obey traffic rules and regulations, saying that motorists should adopt the best road traffic practices as part of efforts to promote road safety and prevent road crashes.
He also underscored the need for motorists to abide by the recommended speed limits for various categories of vehicles, while plying the highways.
“Not everyone on the road gets to his or her destination alive; some lost their lives before their time because of sheer impatience,” he said.
The menace of road accidents in the country has become so worrisome to such an extent that the FRSC has concluded plans to put in place a robust strategy, aimed at reducing road crashes as the year comes to an end.
The Corps Marshal of FRSC, Mr Boboye Oyeyemi, said that the strategy included the deployment of patrol vehicles along strategic road corridors and the use of speed detection devices such as radar guns to monitor motorists’ speed on the highways.
“ Our aim with this robust strategy is to make the roads safer for all road users and ensure a reduction in road crashes as we begin our end-of-year patrol operations,” he said.
Oyeyemi advised motorists to avoid drunk driving, excessive speeding and vehicles’ overloading, insisting that such factors accounted for most of the fatal accidents that occurred on the highways, particularly during the yuletide period.
Oyeyemi also urged the motorists to ensure the roadworthiness of their vehicles before embarking on journeys.
He, nonetheless, vowed that the FRSC patrol teams would not hesitate to arrest and sanction any motorist who violated traffic rules, adding that the commission was working hard to ensure a smooth flow of traffic on the roads.
The corps marshal, however, encouraged motorists to renew their driver’s licences, whenever they expired, and obtain new number-plates.
As part of efforts to create more awareness on road safety, the FRSC has initiated a campaign, involving some schools and members of the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC).
The corps members have been collaborating with the FRSC in dissuading motorists from making phone calls while driving or engaging in drunk driving.
“Use your seatbelt”, “Okada man, use your helmet”, “Ear piece is a distraction to you” are some of the warnings they usually give to motorists on the roads.
Explaining the rationale behind the campaign, the FRSC Sector Commander in Anambra, Mr Sunday Ajayi, said: “Road safety is a collective responsibility”.
He lamented that many children had lost their parents because of little things done wrongly on the highways.
“We either use our phones while driving or refuse to fasten our seatbelt; we also engage in excessive speeding or fail to maintain our vehicles.
“We should be aware that majority of the people who die in road traffic accidents fall within the 16 to 45 age bracket, which is the productive age.
“Also, when they die, a lot of calamities and sufferings befall their families, children and everyone around them,” he said.
Ajayi, therefore, appealed to the public to be serious-minded in efforts to promote safety on the roads, saying: “Driving is a complex matter that must be handled with care.”
Meanwhile, the FRSC has reiterated its plans to enforce the compulsory use of speed limit devices by commercial vehicles, come June 1, 2015.
Corps Marshal Oyeyemi said that the enforcement had become imperative in view of the increasing rate of road traffic crashes caused by speed limit violations by motorists across the country.
Oyeyemi, who bemoaned the recklessness of some drivers on the highway, said that speed limit violations accounted for 39 per cent of road crashes in the country between January and August 2014.
“This development informed the decision of the Stakeholders’ Forum, convened by the FRSC, to embark on aggressive public enlightenment campaigns,” he said.
The FRSC boss stressed that the speed limit devices would help to control the maximum speed of commercial vehicles, while serving as a powerful tool for speed management.
“Active speed limiters directly control speed by applying counterforce on the accelerator or through the engine fuel injection system,” he said.
All the same, observers appeal to drivers to be more careful, particularly during the festive periods when the volume of traffic on the roads is usually high.
They also urge the drivers to consider other road users, insisting that there is no justifiable reason to claim undue rights on the road while driving.
Nwachuchu writes for the News Agency of Nigeria

 

Jacinta Nwachukwu

Overloaded vehicle set for journey during the yuletide

Overloaded vehicle set for journey during the yuletide

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…Creates Two New Offices In Govt House

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has announced the creation of two new executive offices to guarantee efficiency and effectiveness of activities at the Government House, in Port Harcourt.
The governor’s action was made known in a statement signed by the Special Assistant on Media to the Rivers State Governor, Kelvin Ebiri in Government House, Port Harcourt, last Monday.
The terse statement reads, “To ensure activities are functioning efficiently and effectively, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has announced the creation of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt.
“The Deputy Chief of Staff will be in charge of the Logistics, Correspondence of the Governor and Legal Matters.
“Similarly, he has also announced the creation of the Office of the Special Adviser on Aviation”.

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Accelerating Gender Parity In Nigeria

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In virtually all societies, women are in an inferior position to men. Sex or gender determines  more rights and dignity for men in legal, social and cultural situations, These are reflected on unequal access to or enjoyment of rights in favour of men.
There are also the assumption of stereotype social and cultural roles.
In Nigeria, gender inequality has been for decades in spite of modernization and the fact that many females have done better than men in many spheres.
Analysts are convinced that gender inequality is largely influenced by religious and cultural beliefs, as some cultures and religions still hold strongly that women are the weaker vessels created mainly to be home keepers and child bearers.
Analysts are also worried that gender inequality negatively affects status in all areas of life in society, whether public or private, in the family or labour market.
Although the Global Gender Gap Report 2018 by the World Economic Forum (WEF) shows some progress amongst the 149 countries that were indexed, the progress toward closing the gender gap is slow, because it will take 108 years to close the gender gap and another 202 years to achieve parity in the workforce, according to the report.
The report benchmarks the 149 countries on their progress toward gender parity across four dimensions – economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.
A number of initiatives have been made by corporate organisations and governmental and non-governmental organisations  to address gender imbalance in Nigeria.
One of the latest is the launch of First Women Network  (FWN) by the First Bank of Nigeria Ltd., in commemoration of the 2019 International Women’s Day (IWD).
IWD is celebrated globally every March 8 to recognise social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
The celebration is also a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
The global theme for the 2019 celebration is “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change” while the theme for the social media campaign is “#BalanceforBetter”.
According to the bank, the FWN initiative is an avenue for career management and mentoring for women to enable them to balance their career with private endeavours.
The aim,  according to the bank, is to address gender gap and increase women representation in its senior and executive levels, as well as encourage women to tap into opportunities and contribute to nation-building.
The bank’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Adesola Adeduntan,  explains that First Women Network is targeted at the banks’ staff and customers, among others.
He believes that women can achieve more if given the necessary strategic support, hoping that the initiative
will increase the bank’s productivity and profitability.
Adeduntan notes that the initiative is  also a demonstration of First Bank’s adherence to the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Sustainable Development Goals which mandate increased women representation in all banks.
The sustainable goals require that the financial services sector should adopt a quota system to increase women representation on boards to 30 per cent and that of senior management level to 40 per cent by 2014.
Adeduntan is optimistic that the FWN will address six key area –  career management, personal branding, mentoring, welfare, financial planning and empowerment.
He is convinced that the initiative will address gender disparity at the workplace.
“It is commonly agreed that gender parity is an essential factor influencing the advancement of institutions, economies and societies.
“Studies have shown that gender parity in corporations promotes increased performance and returns on investment.
“The need to invest in composite women empowerment and enhance their contributions at senior management levels to achieve organisational goals cannot be over-emphasised,” the CEO says.
For him,  it is paradoxical that the presence of women in paid employments continues to increase, yet the progression of professional women to positions of leadership and management remains slow.
“Gender gaps persist in economic opportunities and political participation in many countries.
“This is part of the reasons for this women network initiative,” he notes.
The chief executive officer wants employers of labour and the entire society to encourage women to advance, excel and contribute optimally in  workplaces and communities.
Mr Abiodun  Famuyiwa, group head, Products and Marketing Support, promises that First Bank  will continue to promote female entrepreneurship for national growth and development.
“We recognise that promoting female entrepreneurship and independence is key to economic viability of every home in the country,” he says.
 According to him, FWN is a further demonstration of the bank’s commitment to women empowerment after the launch  of FirstGem in 2016.
He is satisfied that FirstGem is providing opportunities for women to achieve their financial goals and aspirations through with access to support funds, free business advice, specialised trainings on business development and insight on business development.
For Mr Lampe Omoyele, managing director, Nitro 121, an integrated marketing communications agency,  points out that courage is important in addressing gender imbalance.
“For gender imbalance to be resolved, there has to be courage, vision, values and character,” he says.
He is convinced that women should  have courage and confidence in taking risks within  organisations.
Omoyele advises that women must not play the victims.
“Ultimately, whether you are a female or male, what is going to sustain you is your character and values.
“You need to have values; character is important in the balance that we live to, and it sustains you as you move into the future,” he adds.
The Chief Executive Officer,  Standard  Chartered Bank, Mrs Bola Adesola, wants women to take advantage of FWN to make their lives better.
 She urges women to aspire to grow in their endeavours and refuse be limited because of their gender, stressing that they should use all resources at their disposal to grow.
 For the bank chief, FWN is not a silver bullet to creating the first female chief executive officer of First Bank, but  about opportunity.
“So, it is important that as women, we take advantage of it,” she urges.
 Ms Cecilia Akintomide, independent non-executive director, FBN Holdings Plc, is dissatisfied that Nigeria is still far in gender balancing.
Akintomide says Nigerian  women are still being restricted from working in some places and owning some property.
According to her, restrictions are rendering 50 per cent of Nigeria’s population –  mainly women –  economically unviable.
 A First Bank customer,  Mrs Ifeyinwa Okoye, lauds the FWN, and urges the bank to ensure that its customers – the secondary target of FWN –  benefit from it.
Okoye describes women as critical to economic growth and development but regrets that many women were lagging behind in their endeavours because of gender inequality.
She wants the banks to enlighten its customers on FWN for maximum results.
 “If you empower a woman, you empower a nation.
“Empowering women is especially effective because the benefits are felt throughout the whole community,” she argues.
Analysts call for more strategic support for Nigerian women to  enhance gender parity.


By: Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma
Joel-Nwokeoma is of the News Agency of Nigeria.

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Covid-19 Vaccination: Role Of Local Leaders

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It was a matter of time, but Covid-19 vaccination has already started to generate heated arguments following a hint that the Federal Government could start sanctioning anybody who refused to be vaccinated.
Dr Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director,  National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, disclosed this at a recent press conference in Abuja. He, however, said that implementation was dependent on availability of the vaccines.
“The Presidential Steering Committee and the Federal Ministry of Health are exploring ways of making vaccines more available to all Nigerians, including federal civil servants and corporate entities.
“Once these vaccines are made equitably available to all Nigerians, then we will need to have a frank discussion about justice, fairness and liberty that exist around vaccine hesitancy.
“So, you have a right to refuse vaccines, but you do not have the right to endanger the health of others,” he said.
Already, attempts have been made by two states – Ondo and Edo – to make Covid-19 vaccination compulsory, especially for public servants and members of the public who wish to gain access to certain places.
These places include religious worship centres, banks and public buildings.
However, those attempts and the suggestion that the Federal Government might sanction those who refuse vaccination have been criticised by some trade, professional and religious associations.
 The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) and Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) that kicked against the compulsory vaccination, said that government should rather embark on advocacy and persuasion, than coerce citizens into getting vaccinated.
The spokesman for JOHESU, Mr Olumide Akintayo, said the policy would only be sensible if there were enough vaccines to inoculate eligible citizens.
Akintayo stated: “If you are thinking of it in terms of responsibility, it makes sense; but practically, we all know it is an impossible task.
“ If all the doses that have been sent to Nigeria since this outbreak is less than 10 million, how do you enforce that kind of policy in a country of over 200 million people?
“You don’t just come up with policies that are not backed by common sense; you don’t just say things because you want to talk. It would have made some sense if the vaccines are available for everyone.”
The General Secretary of the NMA, Philips Ekpe, said citizens could not be forced to be vaccinated against Covid-19 the same way they had the right to reject medical treatment.
Rather than being forced, he said Nigerians should be made to understand the need to be vaccinated. 
According to him, although they cannot be forced, citizens who refuse vaccination should stay in their houses so that they don’t endanger others.
He said: “The Federal Government needs to make people understand the reason why they need to be vaccinated. They have the right to say no. You cannot force people. People have the right to say no to medical treatment.
“But you should let them understand the dangers of not getting vaccinated.
“For example, if you want to travel out of the country, if you are not vaccinated, you will not be let in. The reason is because the other country you are going to won’t want to endanger the lives of its citizens.
“Let them understand the importance, but then if they refuse, they should stay in their houses and not go out and endanger others.”
Experts believe that properly communicating the advantages of being vaccinated, through the use of existing structures, such as religious and cultural institutions, would yield better results than subtle threats.
Communication connotes persuasion, even on occasions when the purpose of a piece of communication is not to persuade, there is still the need to win over the audience to accept the message.
In this era of fake news, and when the social media is awash with conspiracy theories against vaccination, persuasion must first be deployed to get the attention of citizens.
The burden increases tremendously when there are cultural and religious stereotypes which could prevent many adherents from accepting that being vaccinated is safe.
This challenge is not peculiar to Nigeria. In the U.S. for instance, vaccine hesitancy is responsible for over 90 per cent of all Covid-19 related hospitalisation.
Getting some Americans vaccinated has been so challenging that many people have been offered monetary incentives to convince them to get vaccinated in an unusual case of persuasion.
In Nigeria, where religious and traditional leaders are custodians of faith and culture respectively, they wield great influence on devotees and those institutions can be deployed to boost vaccination drive.
Historically, religious and traditional rulers often employ the cognitive process of persuasive communication to change an entrenched social perception or public opinion hindering required public support for relevant people-oriented policies.
Leaders have the influence to subtly appeal to the target to listen, accept, comprehend and act.
Therefore, before considering the stick, government should first explore the use of carrot.
Religious and traditional leaders can help in giving correct messages on vaccination as well as being role models, making sure that they and their loved ones too are vaccinated.
Faith-based and culture-based organisations can also collaborate with other leaders to sensitise communities on the benefits of vaccination and to also dispel the many myths and disinformation about it.
King Bubaraye Dakolo of Epetiama Kingdom in Bayelsa has been putting this practice to use, since vaccination was first rolled out in Nigeria in March.
“The arrival of the vaccine brought a huge relief to our kingdom. I mobilised my people to carry out awareness campaigns in the various communities to guard against apathy.
“My council chiefs and I led by example in being vaccinated early. When the people saw that, they were fully convinced that the vaccine is not harmful.
“We made it clear to our people through town hall meetings that the vaccine is safe and is designed to save humanity.
“We equally reminded them how some persons who refused to be vaccinated for poliomyelitis in the past are suffering the consequences of their actions today,” the traditional ruler said. 
According to the WHO Covid-19 Dashboard, Nigeria had administered 4.4 million Covid-19 vaccine doses as at Aug. 31, 2021. Out of that number, 2.9 million Nigerians have been fully vaccinated, according to the NPHCDA.
With a fairly efficient vaccination structure, owing to many years of immunisation against polio, the Nigerian government should activate collaboration with religious and traditional bodies in its vaccination drive.
Experts, including health professionals and public administrators, believe that involving these leaders in advocacy and public enlightenment will lead to more people accepting to voluntarily get Covid-19 vaccination.
Of course, with just a paltry 0.7 per cent of the population vaccinated, the key indicator for any punitive measure for avoiding vaccination will be subject to availability of the vaccines.
However, to achieve the goal of vaccinating 40 per cent of its 200 million population before the end of 2021 and 70 per cent by the end of 2022, Nigeria will need more than availability of vaccines.
There has to be the acceptance and willingness of the majority of its population to be vaccinated.
One of the crucial and effective way to achieve that is to work with religious and traditional leaders.

By: Kayode Adebiyi

Adebiyi writes for News Agency of Nigeria.

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