The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) says it has not yet recorded any case of Lassa fever in the territory. The FCT’s Director of Public Health, Dr Humphrey Okoroukwu, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Friday. He dismissed the speculation on the reported case of Lass fever in Asokoro General Hospital as “false”.
Okoroukwu explained that some samples of the suspected cases were taken to Irrua Laboratory in Edo State and the result was negative, while that of another suspected cases admitted in one of the hospitals in FCT was being awaited. According to him, the FCTA has deployed its Health Promotion Education Team to sensitise residents in markets, motor parks, schools and streets on the causes and symptoms on Lassa fever for them to take proactive measures against the deadly disease.
He said that his department had begun Facility-Based Clinical Sensitisations in hospitals to educate medical personnel and other health workers about Lassa Fever which had been reported in some states across the federation. Okoroukwu noted that the sensitisation was because some doctors had died as a result of the disease outbreak in other states.
“We have been going from one hospital to the other to sensitise our medical professionals on how they can identify and handle suspected cases. “We have Disease Surveillance Structure in communities, wards and area councils, we have sensitised them and they are on red alert,” he said.
The director stressed that the proactive measures were necessary because of the territory’s proximity with Kogi and Nasarawa states where cases of Lassa fever had been reported. Okoroukwu assured the residents that the administration was doing everything possible to prevent Lassa fever outbreak in the FCT.
Saving them from self destruction
Angwan Tivi in Ruga community, a sex den for a good number of men in Abuja, is slowly turning into a HIV-infested den. REGINA OTOKPA reports on a unique case and efforts of a concerned NGO to change the tale of the community
Seventeen-year-old Christiana David (not real name), is five months pregnant and currently infected with the Human Immune Virus (HIV). She is one of the young women engaged in illicit sex trade activities at Angwan Tivi, a settlement within Ruga community in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
Growing up like every other child, Christiana never envisaged her life would take this turn until two years ago when her mother, Sarah (not real name), whose husband is late, introduced Christiana and her two sisters into the business of prostitution at the brothel where she has been selling food since 2015.
Showing no remorse her children were involved in such trade, she told Inside Abuja her husband was late and she and her daughters must hustle to survive.
Inside Abuja checks revealed that one of the sisters presently has a child, unsure of whom the father is, while the second recently had an abortion from an unwanted pregnancy.
Meanwhile, Christiana, who still engages in the act with her five-month pregnancy, has not been able to assess antenatal care. It was also observed that men flock in from all parts of Abuja, including Utako, Asokoro, Gwarinpa and the likes, to patronise these ladies. Running free HIV counselling and test for the women engaged in the illicit trade, the Wanda Adu foundation recorded 25 positive cases.
Most of the women and young girls hail from Benue State, but have found their way into the city with the aim of making a living for themselves.
Worried by the developing trend and committed towards changing the tale about Angwan Tivi, founder of the foundation, Wanda Ebe, has commenced a two weeks training and empowerment exercise for 62 girls and women, to equip them with necessary information and materials on chemical classes for liquid soap, Dettol and cream production.
Also, the training would cover bead making, teach the ladies how to tie head scarf(gele), as well as pedicure and manicure .
Ebe, who recently trained 20 women in Mpape, told Inside Abuja that the idea behind making the ladies learn and acquire vocational skills was to assist them become self sustained and to teach them to always believe in themselves by engaging in different types of business rather than relying on the men for their means of survival.
“It is more honourable to have a means of livelihood and grow a business than to rely on the government or individuals to meet their needs on a daily basis.
We are seeking for ways of empower- ing them and making them better individuals. This will give them an opportunity to choose from all the skills they learnt at the end of the training and be able to stand out on one particular skill.”
Committed to ensuring those free from HIV protect themselves from contracting sexually transmitted diseases and other forms of disease affecting females, Ebe took time, advising the ladies on preventive methods.
Taking a step further, sanitary pads, condoms, antiseptic and liquid soaps were distributed to the ladies. “It is very essential to use condom when engaging in sexual activity with your partner.
Do not hesitate or wait till tomorrow as you cannot detect disease with mere eyes. We have provided means of doing voluntary counseling and testing through AIDS healthcare foundation (AHF), which will give you follow up treatment after the diagnosis,” Ebe said.
She urged Nigerians not to judge women who indulge in sex trade from afar, saying that,”we should learn to show love to them and not chastise them, because we don’t know where they are coming from and what they have been through.
Most of these ladies happen to start this kind of life due to being single mothers ” Capitalising on the Valentine
Post-recession: Savouring gains of diversification
With the recent economic recession over, the Federal Government has shifted focus to non-oil sector with emphasis on agriculture and solid minerals where lies huge economic potential. reports Abudlwahab Isa
Many are of the opinion that the last economic recession was self-inflicted, induced by over dependence on crude oil and absence of elaborate plan for diversification.
With the economy out of the woods due to rapid deployment of various policy instruments and miraculous rebound in crude oil price, there is a renewed push to escalate the huge potential in the non-oil sector of the economy with agriculture and solid minerals taking the lead.
Interestingly, the Federal Government, having seen the danger of relying predominantly on crude oil with all its unpredictable vagaries, initiated reforms in these alternative sectors for economic value addition.
Besides the steps taken to boost the agric sector and the gains derived therein so far, a major policy thrust put in place to enhance the sector’s potential is the Agriculture Promotion Policy 2016-2020 document otherwise known as “The Green Alternative,” which is the outcome of an intensive consultative process starting in November 2015 through April 2016 and involving multiple stakeholders.
From farmer groups to investors to processors to lenders to civil servants to academics, many stakeholders provided detailed input, commentary, and support.
While commenting on the initiative, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development expressed gratitude for the resources, energy and intellect put at the disposal of the ministry by parties too numerous to mention for their continued dedication and resolve to build a next generation agribusiness economy in Nigeria.
“Building on the successes and lessons, the vision of the Buhari administration for agriculture is to work with key stakeholders to build an agribusiness economy capable of delivering sustained prosperity by meeting domestic food security goals, generating exports, and supporting sustainable income and job growth.
“Therefore in 2016 to 2020, Nigeria’s policy now needs to be readjusted to solve the aforementioned challenges. The go forward federal priorities (in partnership with state governments) will be the following four: food security; import substitution; job creation; and economic diversification,” FMARD noted.
On the other hand, is the sold minerals sector with large deposits of about 44 minerals located in different parts of the country.
These include glass sand, limestone, salt, shale, ball clay, galena, granite, marble, laterite, bentonite, phosphate, kaolin, pyrite, feldspar, lignite, gypsum, sphalerite, clay to mention just a few.
Sadly, these minerals were long abandoned in preference for crude oil until recently when concerted efforts are being made to give them priority attention.
Going by the current economic blueprint, the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, the Federal Government envisages to grow the solid mineral sector’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) to N141 billion at an average annual growth of 8.54 per cent between (2017- 2020) from the N103 billion in 2015.
Streaming revenue profile
The revenue stream from solid mineral sector is still low compared to earnings from crude oil. However, it is steadily improving on the strength of reforms and overhaul of the sector. Unlike previous dispensations when solid minerals paid no dime to the federation account, it is a different ball game today.
For instance, the sector remitted about N14. 6 billion in to the federation account in the last eight years.
A breakdown of the remittances to showed that in 2009, solid minerals revenue paid to the federation account was N931.7 million, N1.2 billion in 2010; it increased to N 1.3 billion in 2011 and N1.8 billion in 2012.
Similarly, the sector’s remittance stood at N 2.037 billion in 2013, N2.3 billion in 2014, N2.085 billion in 2015 and N2.8 billion in 2016.
As recent as last December 2017, revenue performance report of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD) showed that the sum of N413 million was collected and paid to the federation account, an amount higher than November figure of N397.4 million.
The December figure was higher than the ministry’s monthly target of N262.22 billion by N150.77 billion indicating an increase of 57.50 per cent. Outstanding balance in the revenue account as of December 2017 stood at N8.5 billion.
Commenting on the huge potential of solid mineral sector at a recent interview with New Telegraph, Acting Chairman, RMAFC, Alhaji Shettima Umar Abba Gana, said the commission’s effort to achieve resource diversification was paying off.
Abba Gana confirmed that as applicable to oil producing states, 13 per cent derivation was currently being paid to states whose solid minerals revenue is paid into federation account.
“The result has been very positive. The reason we took that line was simply because depending on only one source, oil, for revenue has opened Nigeria to vicissitude of oil price fluctuations. If we are going to diversify, the revenue commission has identified two veritable sources of income. The solid minerals and agriculture.
“Apart from their high potential in Nigeria, the two sectors are conveniently available in every state and every local government in equal proportion. That means unlike oil, which is located in five or about six states, there is presence of solid minerals everywhere. Every local government and state will benefit from derivation fund. The commission for the first time about two years ago worked out the 13 per cent derivation of solid minerals.
“About N15 billion was collected as taxes and royalties from solid minerals and included in the sharing formula as applicable to the 13 per cent of oil revenue. We wanted the states to see the benefits of allowing solid minerals to be developed because they will also earn 13 per cent of whatever revenue that comes out of solid minerals so developed. That was the main reason why we pursued the diversification of revenue across states and local governments.”
Blocking revenue leakages
To ensure maximum revenue is raked in by the Federal Government from the sector, government is leaving no stone unturned in blocking leakages.
It has therefore engaged the services of about 100 revenue consultants to work on areas of leakages in revenue accruing from the mining sector, with a view to shoring up earnings.
The consultants to be deployed to the six geo-political zones of the country in the coming week are to examine financial and production records of companies involved in mining activities in the last six years in order to determine whether appropriate royalties were remitted to government.
Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, disclosed the new step recently during the opening of a three-day induction and training for the revenue consultants in Abuja.
He said the main target of the ministry was to ensure that the Federation Account gets its fair due in royalties and taxes.
“Our expectation of this project is that the ministry would emerge as a lead revenue agency for the Federal Government of Nigeria in line with the growth projections of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), which recognises the mining sector as one of Nigeria’s most promising growth sectors and acknowledges that its contribution to GDP doubled from N52 billion in 2010 to N103 billion in 2015.
“The ERGP further projects that revenue from the mining sector would grow from N103 billion (2015) to N141 billion (2020) at an average annual growth rate of 8.54 per cent (2017-2020)”
Dr Fayemi said he was optimistic that the ministry would surpass these targets, as all stakeholders work collaboratively to ensure the success of the R.O.V. Project, resulting in improved levels of voluntary compliance of operators.
The minister admitted that leakages in government revenue was a big challenge in the mining sector, a development, which, he said, the ministry was determined to redress with the ROV Project, following its approval by the National Economic Council (NEC).
The biggest headache troubling the mining sector, however, remains the activities of illegal miners. While their activities pre-date the current administration, the minister in conjunction with other stakeholders have mapped out plans to get rid of them. Quite a number of culprits, who were nabbed, are currently facing prosecution.
There is a refreshing confidence that given the level of reforms in both agric and solid minerals sectors to ensure their economic viability and make it attractive to genuine investors, both have the potential of becoming Nigeria’s next cash cow and capable of replacing crude oil.
A dark afternoon for parents, three kids
February 1, 2018 will forever send shivers down the spines of two extended families who lost their wards to an inferno on their way back from school. REGINA OTOKPA reports
The first of every month for most families is a time to offer prayers hoping for more happy times and greater opportunities, good health and divine provision for the rest of the month.
These were also some of the projections of the families of Dr. Ikechukwu Eze, who lost two of his sons Udochukwu Eze, 5, and Sommachi Eze, 2 on the spot, and his brother Godwin Eze, whose 4-year-old daughter, Amarachi Eze, couldn’t survive the burns sustained from the inferno and died on Saturday.
All were pupils of Je’nisi Little Drop Academy, located at Trade Moore Estate, Lugbe, Abuja
. Trouble started at about 3:30 pm when the driver of the school bus conveying 13 children to their various homes after the close of school activities, noticed the bus had developed a mechanical fault and could not move anymore. Inside Abuja Investigations revealed that rather than ask the pupils to alight while seeking solution to the problem, the driver had left the children alone locked up inside the bus, left and came back with a mechanic to fix the bus.
But according to an eye witnessed who gave her name simply as Ifeoma, the driver of the bus had dropped a can of petrol in the car.
According to her, all of a sudden, the bus went up in flames with the children screaming and crying for help. The driver and the mechanic who were stationed by the bus had scampered to safety leaving the children to battle for the lives.
“The bus going up in flames is still a mystery. The children were screaming, shouting for help but when they didn’t see help forthcoming, they began to break the door and that was how God helped them to breakout from the fire. By the time some people came to render help, it was late and two of the children had died.
The rest were immediately taken to a hospital but we learnt one of them, who was badly burnt could not make it and died after some days. “This is very sad and scary. Most parents are too busy with work that they prefer to have school bus pick up their children. Who will ever think that this kind of incident will befall his or her family?
“If you ask me, the driver was careless. He shouldn’t have locked those kids up. Neither were they supposed to even be in the bus while a mechanic was trying to fix it. What happens to contacting the school to get another bus pick up these children to their homes?
“A vehicle does not just break down and refuse to move just like that. It must have been giving him signs which he obviously ignored for reasons best known to him.
It simply shows lack of coordination and negligence,” she lamented. Filled with grief and puzzled by the inferno that claimed the lives of his sons prematurely, Dr. Ikechukwu Eze has demanded that a coroner’s inquest be constituted to unravel the true cause of the inferno.
“There are several unanswered questions in this entire scenario. The coroner’s inquest will provide the opportunity for the unanswered questions to get convincing response.”
Eze, who broke down in tears while describing one of his son as a great and brilliant mind with passion for engineering, said, “he was inquisitive to challenge the existing practices, bold, courageous and curious.
He had done what people at his age were always afraid to attempt
. His mum and I had great plans for him to get better and quality education that would support his plans and life aspirations. But all these have gone with the wind. I will miss them greatly.” However, his brother, Mr. Godwin Eze, said though he was distressed by the death of his daughter and nephews, he has no plans to pursue the matter further as he has forgiven the school management.
“At no point have I suspected any foul play or sabotage. My family and I have good a relationship with the school management.
They have also been kind and friendly to my children and at no time have I had any cause to question their competence and capacity to care for my children. I have accepted the situation in good faith.”
Angered by the death of the young Ezes, some sympathetic mothers had taken to the streets dressed in black and armed with placards, accusing the school authority of negligence and recklessness to issues of human life, which has led to an unending loss of school children in the Federal Capital Territory.
Only in October last year, a vehicle belonging to Transcorp Hilton Hotel ran over a school bus in Dei Dei neighbourhood of the territory with two pupils of the Executive Primary and Secondary School reportedly killed. One of the aggrieved parents, who gave her name as Mrs Olabode, called on government to accord top priority to the issue of safety in schools. While blaming the school management for not being careful enough, she urged relevant stakeholders to double their efforts in ensuring compliance to minimum safety measures by undertaking periodic inspection of the schools. She further called for stringent laws and operational guidelines by authorities of the Federal Capital Territory Administration to protect school children.
President of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), FCT chapter, Mrs Samira Jamira, who described the death as shocking and disastrous, said the association had made it a point of duty to sensitise school authorities on the need to take adequate security measures to ensure the safety of school children while in school.
However, she lamented that not all private schools within the FCT were duly registered with the association or attend the sensitisation programmes organised to avert such mishap. “It is so sad that lives were lost.
We have done so many training for teachers, school drivers and school owners to ensure safety.
But it is not everyone that attends our meeting; some of the school owners are not even our members. “We will also continue to engage school owners and give them the advice we can.
We cannot force them to do the needful because enforcement comes from the regulatory agencies.’’ Inside Abuja checks however shows that the FCT administration and regulatory agencies have not been alive to their responsibilities toward safety of pupils in school.
Based on their mandate, these regulatory bodies are supposed to embark on inspections of school to ascertain the level of security vis-a-vis security gadgets like fire extinguisher, and to ensure that all buses used in conveying school pupils were in order with all the security gadgets in place.
Jamira, who also expressed concern over the poor safety and security measures put in place by school authorities in the FCT, has mandated all school owners to ensure all buses are safe and in good condition.
“The drivers should also know the safety measure to take when such thing happens and also the mode of communication is very important to assist in case of emergency. On our part as an association, we will continue to train and sensitise school owners on safety measures in schools,’’ she added.
Although the proprietress of the school, Je’nisi Little Drop Academy and the school bus driver, were said to be in police custody, the school has been closed temporarily pending the conclusion of investigation to ascertain the true cause of the inferno.
Top Stories16 hours ago
2019: Tinubu begs Saraki, Tambuwal, Kwankwaso
Metro and Crime17 hours ago
Herdsmen kill 50 in Nasarawa, says Tiv president
Arts & Entertainments22 hours ago
Khloe, Kbrule disqualified from BBNaija
Metro and Crime19 hours ago
Kingdom Wealth Multipurpose Society debuts
News16 hours ago
IBB to PDP: Provide a better choice for Nigerians
Arts & Entertainments13 hours ago
Vandora, Dee One, Princess, Bitto evicted from BBNaija
Metro and Crime19 hours ago
Two arrested for murder of guard
Metro and Crime19 hours ago
Customs engages officers on professional handling of arms