Archive for January, 2016

Delta Speaker, ALGON Chairman dismiss story on remittance of N325million

Posted on January 23, 2016. Filed under: news | Tags: |

Delta Speaker, ALGON Chairman dismiss story on remittance of N325million

The Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Monday Igbuya has stressed the need for media practitioners to be thorough and be armed with accurate facts and figures in their investigative journalism.

He also asked them to always project the image of the State in its true perspective to counter the negative picture being presented by some individuals.

Igbuya who spoke while receiving the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Award of Excellence, in Legislative Competence and Exceptional Leadership in Asaba expressed disappointment at the actions of some journalists in the state.

“Those with sinister motives rush to online media to air their frivolous and malicious publication because it provides cover for litigation. Saharareporters and The Will should on their part check the veracity of news item before publishing. They need to be mindful
that true journalism is not a tool for witch hunting” he said.

In a tone suggestive of his condemnation for falsehood, the speaker said he was disturbed when Trend; a new radio station aired the purported resignation or threat of resignation of the managing director of DESOPADEC.

“There exist a cordial relationship between the commission and the House of Assembly. The commission is being run by a board saddled with the policy formulation of the commission while the managing director and his management staff handle the implementation. The appropriate place to tender any thought of resignation is to the board, not the speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly. The pressure over budget
as speculated by the aforementioned media houses is purely speculative. As I speak, the budget of the commission is not before the House. I have not seen DESOPADEC budget” he emphasized.

He urged journalists to stop engaging in acts inimical to the development of the state and prevent themselves from being used by individuals and organizations that do not mean well for Delta State.

“Some days ago, I read a report in The Will and Saharareporters on the remittance of N325million by council chairmen. You don’t make allegations that are unfounded. Because of paucity of fund in the state, the allocation to councils has dropped drastically. Some local government areas are in arrears of salaries to their staff. Some of them do not have three million as allocation, let alone raising N3million for the House of Assembly. In fact, my local government council got N2.7 as allocation. So, how can a council that got
N2.7million pay N3million? Where will the chairman get the money? Some got zero allocation. Most local governments are currently indebted to the federal government.”

He observed that the relevant agencies or the operators of these agencies particularly the Local Government Chairmen, the ALGON Chairman, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs or the House Committee Chairmen on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs were not reached as to ascertain the veracity of the information. These are public figures whose offices and telephone numbers are in the public domain. A little, just a little sincere effort on the part of the publishers would have revealed the true
position of things.

“They did not explore the necessary avenues to verify their twisted facts.”

To prevent denting of image which false reports could create in the minds of the public, Igbuya advised journalists to always verify their facts.

“Before publishing or airing any story, please verify your facts. I am open to investigation. Don’t write frivolous and unfounded stories. Always verify your information. Journalists should not believe in hearsay. Somebody wants to resign, or he is threatening to resign, the journalists should confirm the story. He should be able to reach the person. I think that is what you call balance reporting.”

“As professionals, you must ensure that quacks are not given room to destroy the practice of journalism and bring your profession into disrepute in the state” he advised

“I started as a councilor; I didn’t jump to become Speaker. Some persons started from the top. I started from the bottom. It took me a lot of time to get to where I am and I will not tolerate any person who tries to drag my name to the mud” he added. Similarly, the Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Delta State chapter, Hon Itiako Ikpokpo has dismissed the story, describing it as a stupid allegation.

“Who is making that kind of stupid allegation? Did they see any money go from the councils to the Speaker’s account? Whether they write one million stories, it is not true. I try to run away from unnecessary allegations. First and foremost, I mean the councils are in a very difficult position.  Even the reporter didn’t have the temerity to call me to confirm the allegation. Ask the said reporter, he has my three numbers but he didn’t reach me over the issue” he said in Asaba

Sent in by Fidel Njamanze

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Communique Reached by the Niger Delta People’s Movement at the End of Its Meeting

Posted on January 23, 2016. Filed under: Press Release, Uncategorized | Tags: |

Communique Reached by the Niger Delta People’s Movement at the End of Its Meeting Held On Friday, 22nd January 2016

RE: NDDC, REVERSE SEMINITARI’S APPOINTMENT, PMB ADVISED.

We have observed, over time, attempts by various supposed pro-Niger Delta groups to get President Muhammadu Buhari reverse his recent appointment of Mrs Simintari’s  as the Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission ( NDDC).

Most of these groups, we have noticed, had no existence before now and are likely phantom groups existing only in the imaginary land with one man running it from the comfort of his bedroom for the purpose of what are now known as stomach infrastructure.

As a true Niger Deltan group who doesn’t concern itself with frivolities, we would have ordinary ignored this trend. However, keeping quiet would be tantamount to leaving members of the public in perpetual ignorance, especially in the face of the recent release from a group which identified itself as the International Institute of Humanitarian and Environmental Law. Where it alleged, albeit ignorantly, that the President contravened some laws in Mrs Ibim Seminitari’s appointment.

In its arguments, the group quoted Sections 3 , 4 and 5 of the NDDC Act. It also referred to Section 5 (1)(a) & (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as Amended. For the purpose of clarity, we wish to produce these provisions word for word :

Sections 2,3, 4 and 5 of the NDDC Act ;

2.    (1)    There is hereby established for the Commission a governing Board (in this Act referred to as “the Board”), which shall consist of-

(a)     a Chairman;

(b)     one person who shall be an indigene of an oil producing area to represent each of the following member States, that is,

(i)     Abia State,

(ii)     Akwa-lbom State,

(iii)    Bayelsa State,

(iv)    Cross River State,

(v)     Delta State,

(vi)     Edo State,

(vii)     Imo State,

(viii)     Ondo State, and

(ix)     Rivers State;

(c)     three persons to represent non-Oil mineral producing States provided that such membership should be drawn from the remaining geo-political zones which are not represented in the Commission;

(d)     One representative of Oil producing companies in the Niger- Delta nominated by the Oil producing companies;

(e)     one person to represent the Federal Ministry of Finance;

(f)     one person to represent Federal Ministry of Environment

(g)    the managing Director of the Commission

(h)    two executive Directors

(2)     The Chairman and other members-of the Board shall-

(a)     be appointed by the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, subject to the confirmation of the Senate, in consultation with the House of Representatives.

(b)     be persons of proven integrity and ability.

(3)     The members of the Board referred to in paragraph (a – f) of sub-section (1) of this section shall be part-time members

(4)    The supplementary provisions set out in the Schedule to this Act shall have effect with respect to the proceedings of the Board and the other matters contained therein.

3.    (1)     Subject to the provisions of section 4 of this Act a member of the Board, other than an ex-officio member, shall hold office for a term of 4 years at the first instance and may be re-appointed for a further term of 4 years and no more

(2)     A member of the Board other than ex-officio member, may resign his appointment by notice, in writing under his hand addressed to the President Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, which resignation shall take effect only upon receipt by the President, Commander-in-Chief.

4.     The office of the Chairman shall rotate amongst the member states of the Commission in the following alphabetical order.

(a)     Abia State;

(b)     Akwa-Ibom State;

(c)     Bayelsa State;

(d)     Cross-River State;

(e)     Delta State;

(f)     Edo State;

(g)     Imo State;

(h)     Ondo State; and

(i)     Rivers State,

5.    (1)     Notwithstanding the provisions of section 3 of this Act, a person shall cease to hold office as a member of the Board if-

(a)     he becomes bankrupt, suspends payment or compounds with his creditors; or

(b)     he is convicted of a felony or any offence involving dishonesty or fraud, or

(c)     he becomes of unsound mind, or incapable of carrying out his duties; or

(d)     he is guilty of a serious misconduct in relation to his duties; or

(e)     in the case of a person possessed of professional qualifications, he is disqualified or suspended, other than at his own request, from practising his profession in any part of the world by an order of a competent authority made in respect of that member: or

(f)     he resigns his appointment by a letter addressed to the President, Commander- in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

(3)     Where a vacancy occurs in the membership of the Board it shall be filled by the appointment of a successor to hold office for the remainder of the term of office of his predecessor, so however, that the successor shall represent the same interest and shall be appointed by the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces subject to the confirmation of the Senate in consultation with the House of representatives.

They particularly hinged their argument on subsection 3 of Section 5. They interpreted the ‘interest’ in the context as meaning state of origin. And claimed that the next Chairman of the Board is supposed to come from Akwa Ibom State so as to finish the tenure for that State, rather than Rivers State in the light of that provision.  While their first interpretation may have some iota of truth in it. Their application of it is completely misleading and put a question mark on their acclaimed status of being a pro-legal body.

First, a holistic read of Section 5 will reveal that the section specifically addresses the issue of membership and not Chairmanship. Section 2(2)  referred to Chairman and members separately. It then means that their argument, if it will hold water, can only have bearing where a member is to be replaced and not the Chairman.  Secondly, the provision is applicable to appointments in a substantive board and not one in an acting capacity.

We therefore urge Mr President to ignore these detractors and attention seekers. The progressive minded people of the Niger Delta are in full support of the appointment of Mrs Ibim Seminitari, which contravened no law. In fact, we are surprised at the pace of work and utmost zeal on her part. The Commission for the first time, since its creation, is serving the purpose for which it was created.

DAME IBIFURO THOMPSON TATUA

FOR NIGER DELTA PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT

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China: Underground move that killed Nigeria’s textile industry

Posted on January 23, 2016. Filed under: Opinion, Uncategorized | Tags: |

China: Underground move that killed Nigeria’s textile industry
By Odimegwu Onwumere
Indigenous textile operators are howling that Chinese operators have taken over the Nigeria’s textile industry. From East to West, North to South there is ranting. The local operators weep stalks to the fact that China, which was formerly an import dependent country, had 16 textile factories in China devoted to tossing out textiles with a “Made in Nigeria” badge sewn in them around 1997, with Nigeria’s textile industry vibrantly operating over 300 vivacious factories. The vibrancy of the industry in Nigeria earned her the status of the second largest in Africa, battling with South Africa, after Egypt’s, then.
A Nigerian Journalist, Ugboja Felix Ojonugwa said in a civic appearance on May 20 2015, “Within a few decades, China has lifted some 300 million of its people from abject poverty, a feat without any precedence in the annals of economic development. Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, with vast reserves of oil and gas, is yet gasping for the breath and is the toast of many global economic powers.”
China took over the importation and distribution of textiles in Nigeria. Nigeria becomes prospectively, the chief marketplace for China’s industrial products in Africa, today.
Ogonugwa added, “Nigeria’s imports from China account for over a third of its total trade with West Africa. President Jonathan’s visit to China in 2014 is significant as it underlines Nigeria’s growing economic relations with China. From the Nigerian perspective, closer economic ties with China have become imperative. The Chinese loan of $1.5billion brings to a total of nearly $15 billion China’s investments and loans to Nigeria in recent years, including the $2.5billion investment in the newly refurbished Lagos-Kano rail line.”
The irony is that in the 90s, Chinese factories were copying West African designs and as well opening their own distribution chains in the territory. As at 2012, Chinese investors whose textiles were once regarded to be of low worth, have had over 200 corporations at Kantin Kwari Market in Kano State, sending local investors who had controlled the market from beginning, packing.
A source that would not want the name in print said, “For a time the Chinese material was of a much lower quality than Nigerian originals, but that gap narrowed as Chinese standards rose. The Chinese began to take control of the market, with the unsuspecting Nigerian vendors as a willing tool.”
Some of the local traders become errand boys otherwise called middlemen to Chinese traders and are settled to the tone of N1, 000 to N500 depending on the business outcome with the prospective buyer they brought to any Chinese traders. The distressing side is that China provides low interest loans for infrastructure in Nigeria and other African countries, whereas she is a leading player in global trade and Africa’s largest trading partner, making $198.5 billion in China-Africa trade as at 2012, compared with $99.8 billion for US–Africa trade.
According to another Nigerian business journalist, Yemi Olakitan, “In 1995, World Trade Organisation (WTO) adopted certain agreements on Textiles and Clothing, chief of them was that all allocations on textile and clothing will be removed among WTO member countries. The main beneficiary of the policy was China. The global textile market is said to worth more than $400bn at present. According to China Customs, the export value of China’s textile and garment alone amounted to $206.5bn.  The Nigerian textile industry was one of those that suffered, because of the cheap exports from China. Nigeria used to be the major supplier of (Ankara) good quality wax-resist textile. However, in the early 2000s, cheap imitations of these products were produced and exported from China to West Africa. Some would be slammed with Made-in-Nigeria labels and then sold in Nigeria.”
The Chinese rose by attacking “at the heart of the industry: the wax-print and African-print segment.” Although, condemned at the time by some business moguls as “100% illicit”, the locals were accounted to be doing the smuggling, experts at Business Journal, have said.
Nevertheless, not up to 10 percent of the indigenous factories are functional in the recent times. Many have closed shop and sidetracked to other perceived lucrative businesses. For example, the International Textile Industry (ITI) with factories in Isolo and Ikorodu, both in Lagos, has closed shop. And over 1500 persons under its employ lost their jobs. The same fate befell the First Spinner Limited, Ikorodu, Lagos. Over 800 persons lost their jobs in this factory, too.
Others that enjoyed the boom in the Nigeria’s textile industry but today have closed shop were the Textile Ltd (KTL), Arewa Textiles Plc, United Nigerian Textile Plc, Supertex, Nortex Nigerian Ltd and Finetex Nigerian Ltd.  Others were Gaskiya Textiles Mill, Kano Textile Ltd, Aba Textiles, Zamfara Textiles Ltd, Asaba Textiles Ltd, African Textile Mill Plc, Tofa Textiles.
The story of textile factories that have closed shop is numerous. In all of this an estimated 250, 000 persons have lost their jobs, out of about 350,000 that were occupying the industry. In 2014, many of the former workers of the closed textile industries in Kaduna were suffering.
It is applicable till date. They have resorted to riding Okada and engaged in menial jobs, since many of them have minimal academic qualifications to look for a white collar job elsewhere. The chairman of the Coalition of Closed Unpaid Textile Workers in Kaduna, Wardem Simdik told newsmen that this is the ugly fate that has befallen most of them and they have been protesting that the companies they once worked for should pay them their severance benefits.
Intervention
Despite the intervention by the successive governments in Nigeria to consolidate the country’s textile industry, the henchman of the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN), Mr. Ladele Hunsu had his fears that the industry is yet to be viable no matter the money that successive governments have been pumping into the industry to revitalise it.
Hunsu lamented that there are many textiles coming into the country unchecked, adding that corruption, mismanagement, lack of constant electricity, lack of modern equipments and cost of production have endangered the country’s textile industry, hence giving room for China to steal show by shipping materials that are confirmed substandard into the country.
To redeem the textile industry, the Federal Government had to place a ban on importation of textiles into Nigeria. But this idea did not go down well in some quarters. Many persons in the industry felt shortchanged. They argued that the revenue from imported textiles that was supposed to come to the country was being reaped by neigbouring countries and smugglers, hence the call for lifting of the ban. There was the “Acting President Goodluck Jonathan Must Hear This” summit that took place in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, where the convener of the forum, Alhaji Ibrahim Dojo, said in bawling tone that the ban appeared to have ethnic colouration targeting the South-East and South-South.
It was believed that about 50 million Nigerians were rendered jobless as a result of the ban. The forum frowned that in the 70s and 80s the industry was generating about 25 per cent of the manufacturing GDP and contributing 20 percent of mutual taxation revenue in Nigeria. Today, there is an estimated $2.2bn textiles smuggled into Nigeria through Benin, per annum, making Nigeria’s production go down drastically.
Irked by China’s approach
While having business operation in Nigeria, China prefers to manufacture finished product in her country and ship to Nigeria, knowing that Nigerians prefer foreign goods to their locally made ones. In the light of this, experts are of the opinion that it will be difficult for Nigeria to survive.
Against this influence, many calls were made to China to build textile industries in Nigeria; not even the ban of 2002 by the ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo could deter China. The Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, was among the many Nigerians that have called on China to build industries in Nigeria.
“Our over-reliance on foreign products is hurting our economy and the only way to stop this trend is to tackle the problems in the manufacturing sector,” said the Emir, when he met with China’s Ambassador to Nigeria at his Palace recently.
Before leaving office in 2007, Obasanjo ‘launched’ a N70bn Textile Development Fund. Ex-President Yar’Adua increased the fund by an extra N30bn to N100bn. In 2005, a special inter-ministerial committee headed by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai destroyed by burning, smuggled textile materials worth over N4 billion. By 2010, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan lifted the ban.
Sanusi who was a former central bank governor, is believed in Nigeria to have known how the trade and economy of the world run. But swiftly, Sa’idu Adhama, a former textile factory owner, recapped his fears that since the government in Nigeria hardly give loans to local investors, it would be very hard for Nigerian traders to contend with their Chinese counterparts, whose country is always at their disposal by giving them loans at “single digit rates over a longer term.”
Imitations
“It was acknowledged that imitations of made-in-Nigerian goods are coming in shiploads of containers from China. They are branded with the Nigerian local brand name. While the truly made-in-Nigeria is selling for N570, the China imitations sell for N350. So people prefer to buy the one from China,” said Debo Oladimeji, a journalist with The Guardian.
In 2015, Nafiu Badaru, a junior civil servant in Kano (place regarded as a centre of weaving and textile manufacturing dating back centuries), told AFP that he could not afford to buy a piece of high-quality brocade (cloth), which costs around 10,000 naira ($50, 47 Euros), but with 1,500 Naira (less than $6), he could buy six pieces of cheap Chinese brocade (cloth) and keep a lot of balance and at the same time look good.
Taking open door policy for granted
Over a decade ago, China started taking advantage of the liberal policy of the Nigerian government to foreign trade, to undermine the country with her textiles. Instead of abiding by the law that prohibits foreign traders from retailing, some Chinese circumvented the law in May 2012, by retailing in the streets.
The authorities in the country apprehended them and deported 45 of them. This is excluding 4 of them that were earlier in that month arrested for smuggling mass produced fabrics, which were contained in 26 warehouses that were sealed by the authorities, which import duties were not paid.
Stakeholders assemble
As at 2014, the USA was playing the second fiddle in 142years following China in term of economy rating by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Chinese economy was worth $17.61 trillion compared with $17.4 trillion for the USA. The IMF estimated that the economy of China will be worth just under $26.98 trillion in 2019. “That would be 20 per cent bigger than the U.S. economy, which is forecast to be worth $22.3 trillion by then,” the source said.
China achieved this economic feat through industrialisation. Worried by the collapse of the Nigeria’s textile industry, stakeholders assembled at the 6th Advisory Board Meeting of Fashion Textile Stakeholders’ Forum in Lagos in 2013. Mr. Joseph Ikemefuna Odumodu, the Director General/Chief Executive of Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), argued: “People only copy successful products. There is a challenge. Technology also changes our consumption habits. How can we ensure that our products are competitive?”
There is a clamour that the industry wants government protection, not only through monetary donation, but also by making strong the currency in the face of rising Chinese competition. In a different presentation, Ojonugwa said, “Nigeria needs China’s financial and technical assistance in the development of its decaying infrastructure.”
An ex-Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr Olusegun Aganga, once said, “The time is now, to look inward to patronize Nigerian made fabrics and other local raw materials. We must realize the damage we pose on our economy, on our cultural heritage, and our national pride when we shun local brands in preference for products from other economies. We must recognize our power as designers to dictate the taste (or better still, trend) of a population.”
Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet/Writer; he writes from Rivers State. (apoet_25@yahoo.com)
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Era of imposition in PDP is gone – Hon. Igbuya

Posted on January 21, 2016. Filed under: Press Release | Tags: |

Era of imposition in PDP is gone – Hon. Igbuya

The Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Monday Igbuya, Tuesday spoke on the problem of imposition in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), urging members to join him to reform the party.
“It is a historic challenge which we must rise to confront squarely” he said at the maiden tripartite meeting of PDP members in the Delta State House of Assembly, Commissioners and Advisers to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.

Igbuya, evangelical in his support for transparency, said the party must be clear as to the type of leadership required to meet the herculean challenges ahead.

“Whatever interest people want to advance, my position is, let there be level playing field. PDP members in the House of Assembly must be carried along” he advised.

At the meeting aimed at positioning the party to be more efficient, to espouse its philosophy and to impact positively on the lives of the people, Igbuya canvassed for Right of First Refusal.

He advised leaders of the party to follow the laid down procedures of the party.

To increase the chances of PDP retaining power in the state and also setting it on the path of constructive regeneration, Igbuya not only emphasized party discipline, cohesion, loyalty and integrity but called for a system that would empower members of the party with the unfettered right to choose their leaders.

“We cannot sleep   and say Delta State is PDP. The success of the party depends on everyone. We should work in concert to ensure a democratic exercise. The PDP must be a vessel for electing leaders who are the choice of the people” he said.

He praised the governor for his efforts at charting a new course for the state and the party.

“Governor Ifeanyi Okowa is lifting up the standard of life of the people. He has set Delta State on the path of progress through his policy of inclusiveness”

He enjoined Deltans to continue to contribute to make the state stronger.

In another development, Rt Hon Igbuya Tuesday described Hon Omawumi Udoh as a wonderful woman.

Udoh, PDP member representing Warri South Constituency at the Delta State House of Assembly, defeated Hon Godwin Toristseju Abigor at the Court of Appeal.

“Hon Omawumi Udoh is destined to be a member of the Sixth House of Assembly” Igbuya said.

In Issele-Uku, the speaker congratulated People’s Democratic Party (PDP) member, Engineer Emeka Nwaobi for his victory at the Appeal
Court sitting in Benin.

The court nullified the election and tribunal victory of Osi Okocha, member representing Aniocha North constituency.

By Fidel Njamanze

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Measles: A foremost source of morbidity and mortality

Posted on January 21, 2016. Filed under: Opinion | Tags: |

Measles: A foremost source of morbidity and mortality
 
By Odimegwu Onwumere
 
Measles still remains a foremost source of morbidity and mortality in Nigerian children, regardless-of being vaccine-avertable. The precarious scenery of measles has made it to garner such headlines like, “Nigeria to immunise 35 million children against measles – Official, October 3, 2013”, “Measles, child killer disease, ravages 12 Northern Nigerian States, March 17, 2013”, “Kebbi records 93 more cases of measles in rural areas, January 22, 2013”, “Bauchi records 80 per cent measles immunisation coverage, December 13, 2015”, “Measles: 515, 531 Ekiti children for immunisation, 19 Jan 2016”, “16,000 Nigerian children under five die everyday in 2015 – WHO”, and so many others.
 
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) said during the kick-off of the 2015 Annual Physicians’ Week on Sunday October 25 2015 that record exposed that escapable childhood maladies like measles remains one of the primary causes of death among Nigerian children with 2013 alone, recording 145, 700 measles deaths globally and about 400 deaths every day or 16 deaths every hour.
 
The United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) stated that measles killed 112 Nigerian children in 2015. This is not even as it said in 2014 that there were nearly 150, 000 measles deaths worldwide – in-relation-to nearly 500 deaths every day or nearly 20 deaths every hour.
 
The UNICEF’s Dr. Emmanuel Idoko made this known in Abakaliki on January 19 2016, at a one-day media course-meeting on the 2016 Measles Vaccination Campaign (MVC). The worry is that there were 22, 567 suspected cases across the 36 states of the federation and Abuja in 2015.
 
Wrong attitude towards the fight
What the headlines mean is that Nigeria is trading on a dangerous path with measles characteristically; being that it is a communicable disease that proliferates swiftly among children.
 
Studies have sought to find out if there is any association between measles immunisation coverage and measles outbreak, because of the incessant news of measles that come out of Nigeria, but corruption and biddableness against the fight have been noticed as culprits why the battle is yet to be won.
 
The National Surveillance Officer, World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Irene Isibor frowned at the 19th Biennial Conference and Annual General Meeting of the Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria, held at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, Lagos, saying that “due to people’s wrong attitude” most children in Nigeria still die from vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles. 
 
“Everyday in 2015, 16,000 children under five years continue to die, mostly from preventable causes. Child survival must remain the focus of the post-2015 development agenda. The distribution of the estimated deaths among children under five years of age, from diseases that are preventable by vaccination in 2008 in Nigeria shows that measles accounts for 118, 000,” she said.
 
The most vulnerable are children under nine months, which is the main reason children are supposed to habitually get measles vaccination at age nine months. Campaign survey has shown, however, that many children do not get it. Immunisation coverage dropped, hence, much effort is not made to increase measles immunisation in children between 9 and 59 months, bearing in mind that measles immunisation coverage in urban and rural areas was not markedly different, said experts.
 
Mr. Chukwuemeka Anthony Umeh at Hospitals Management Board, Bayelsa State, in a hypothesis made available to Pan African Medical Journal in 2013, said, “Efforts at immunising children against measles was intensified in Nigeria with nation-wide measles vaccination campaigns in 2005-2006, 2008 and 2011 targeting children between 9 and 59 months. However, there were measles outbreaks in 2010 and 2011 in Abia State.”
 
Measles scare
Measles has become a cause for concern in Nigeria as many children are becoming victim, every day. It means that if nothing urgent is done measles may wipe a lot more children, apart from the number it has already recorded. Oyo State Government, for example, was thrown into mourning early this year when five children were lost to the disease.
 
Three million children between nine and 59 months were to be vaccinated during an exercise, scheduled for Nov. 21 to Nov. 25, 2015, according to Malam Hamza Ikara, Health Educator, Kaduna State Primary Healthcare Agency (SPHCA).
 
The World Health Organization (WHO), in partnership with the Ministry of Health in Taraba State, on November 14 2015 heralded plans to vaccinate no fewer than 760,128 children against measles in the state. The exercise was to hold between November 21 to November 25.
 
No fewer than 97,000 children were to be vaccinated against measles in the Dutse Local Government Council of Jigawa, Alhaji Sani Yusif, the Health Education Officer spoke through the council’s Information Officer, Malam Ya’u Garba in Dutse in November 2015.
 
The Chairman of Kebbi State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr Farouk Wakili said his state’s campaign was targeted at 700,000 children.
 
Politics of Vaccination
While families and states and crusaders are crying over the children who lost their lives to measles, checks revealed that 25 million Nigerian children are yet to receive vaccination against measles. What this means is that the country should expect an increase in the number.
 
“There are still children among those suspected or confirmed cases of measles. Over 63 percent are zero doses, which means they have never had any immunisation,” said Dr Damaris Onwuka, the director of disease control and immunisation at the National Primary Health Care Development Agency.
 
Conversely, there was a planned nationwide campaign to immunise at least 39 million children aged nine months to 59 months in November 2015. But that idea became a tall dream as the National Primary Health Care Development Agency did not meet up; it reiterated that the exercise would culminate into this year.
 
How more than 25 million children born in the last five years did not have any vaccination against measles, figures show, do not meet the eyes.
 
“National coverage of measles vaccine when combined with oral polio vaccination did not exceed 70 percent between 2003 and 2010. A first phase of the latest stand-alone measles vaccination will target children in 19 northern states and the FCT between Nov 21 and 25, 2015. A second phase from January 28 to February 1 next year (2016) will target 17 southern states,” Dr Chinedu Okoronkwo of the agency told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
 
Where the immunisation money goes
The irony is that governments at all levels and the international community are not paying lackadaisical approach in the combat against measles.
 
Monies are being budgeted and projected to curb the menace, but how the authorities responsible for the management the money have not been able to arrest the situation calls for concern.
 
“Around 10 percent of the entire campaign cost is borne by federal and state government, contributing $3.731 million to operational spending. The rest, including vaccines said to have arrived the country recently, is paid for by international donors through the Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative, GAVI,” reported Daily Trust.
 
At least, indications are that the campaign against measles will cost an estimated $45.5 million.
 
Curbing the menace
To fight the scourge to standstill, Isibor pinpointed out three key steps to close the immunisation gap including incorporating immunisation with other services such as post-natal care for mothers and babies, Daily Times reported.
 
The source added that others were strengthening of the health system to accommodate all categories, especially during crisis with regards to assuring that everyone can access vaccines and afford to pay for them.
 
“To fight this scourge and other such health conditions, the NMA called for immediate declaration of national emergency in the health sector; and put all machinery in place towards eradicating the negative health situation from the country,” reported NAN.
 
Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet/Writer; he writes from Rivers State. (apoet_25@yahoo.com)
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Towards Resolving MOSOP Internal Crisis

Posted on January 21, 2016. Filed under: Press Release | Tags: |

Towards Resolving MOSOP Internal Crisis

Following recent developments within the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), some past Leaders and Activists of the Movement, Leaders of Thought and Elders from Ogoni met on Wednesday, 20th January, 2016, to seek means of resolving the crisis and properly reposition the Movement.

At the end of the meeting, a Resolution Committee was set up comprising Ledum Mitee, Professor Don Baridam, Dr. Meshach Karanwi, Rev. Dr. Abraham Olungwe, Lenusikpugi  Kpagih, Chief Monday Abueh and Ms Rose Nwigani, to meet with all sides, Traditional rulers and other Leaders from the area, with a view to resolving the crisis and reposition the Movement appropriately in order to meet its avowed
objectives.

Accordingly, the meeting appealed to all sides to the present crisis to cooperate with the Resolution Committee and to refrain from actions or public statements capable of undermining the current peace process.

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