Beating non-communicable diseases to safeguard African children

Emeka Ahanonu and Ugo Alilionwu are from the same family. Following frequent hospital admissions in early childhood, they were later diagnosed with sickle cell disease.

Their family, living in a village in the eastern part of Nigeria, did as much as they could to manage their condition.

With time, cost of medication and care became burdensome for the poor family, coupled with the rising cost of living.

Meeting up with medications, hospital appointments, adequate nutrition and observing other conditions necessary to manage the condition became tougher.

Sadly, Ahanonu and Alilionwu passed on within an interval of about four years, at the ages of 11 and 14, respectively.

In a related development, Chisom Chukwuneke, 17, who was the best candidate in the 2019 West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination in her school, died after a battle with blood cancer.

At her demise, her father, Mr Felix Chukwuneke, wrote, ‘As restless and worried as I can be, I promised to do everything humanly possible. We wen
t to South Africa. We were happy at your initial recovery, not knowing the war was just to begin.’

Young Chukwuneke died in 2020.

Again, Onome Eka’s family got to know she had Type 1 Diabetes when was 12 years old.

Keeping up with her treatment with insulin was an ordeal. It was expensive. Payment was out of the pocket. Getting needed treatment as and when due was difficult. Thus, Eka passed away some months later.

However, Akida Abdul, 10, and Emmanuel Anga,15, of Kondoa District in Tanzania have been able to live with SCD and Type 1 Diabetes respectively, having access to a PEN-Plus clinic in their community.

In spite of their families’ lack of funds for their treatments, the clinic has been able to bridge the gaps in financing, accessibility and other issues that could have limited them from having access to care.

The World Health Organization (WHO) approach to addressing severe Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) through an integrated outpatient service at first-level hospitals is called integrated PEN
-Plus (package of essential interventions for severe NCDs).

It aims to mitigate the burden of severe NCDs among the poorest children and young adults by increasing accessibility particularly in low and middle-income countries.

On Aug. 23, 2022, the 47 member-states of the WHO/Afro region voted to adopt PEN-Plus strategy to address severe NCDs at first-level referral facilities.

According to WHO, NCDs such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, are increasingly becoming the main cause of mortality in sub-Saharan Africa.

NCDs, also known as chronic diseases, are non-transmissible diseases of often long duration. Examples of NCDs include mental health conditions, stroke, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, sickle cell disorder, and chronic lung disease.

They are driven largely by behaviours that usually start during childhood and adolescence. Such behaviours include physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol.

However, sometimes, they are genetic or congenital.

The d
iseases are accountable for 37 per cent of deaths in 2019, rising from 24 per cent in 2000 largely due to weaknesses in the implementation of critical control measures including prevention, diagnosis and care.

In Africa, between 50 per cent and 88 per cent of deaths in seven countries, mostly small island nations, are due to non-communicable diseases, according to the 2022 World Health WHO NCDs Progress Monitor.

Globally, it is estimated that one in two disability-affected lives and one in five deaths among adolescents are caused by NCDs.

In the Africa, the number of people living with diabetes, for example, is expected to reach 47 million by 2045, up from 19 million in 2019.

‘The growing burden of NCDs poses a grave threat to the health and lives of millions of people in Africa: over a third of deaths in the region are due to these illnesses.

‘What is particularly concerning is that premature deaths from non-communicable diseases are rising among people younger than 70 years,’ said Dr Matshidiso Moeti,
WHO Regional Director for Africa.

Highlighting the gravity of the situation, Moeti, who joined the International Conference on PEN-Plus in Africa (ICPPA2024) virtually, said it was time to prioritise person-centred approach to NCDs.

The four-day conference, from April 23 to April 25, 2024, had the theme, ‘Prioritising Person-Centered Approach to Chronic and Severe NCDs – Type 1 Diabetes, Sickle Cell Diseases, and Childhood Heart Diseases.’

It was hosted by the Tanzania Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization African Region (WHO-Afro), in partnership with the HELMSLEY Charitable Trust and NCDI Poverty Network.

The meeting centred around inequitable access to prevention, diagnosis, treatment and ongoing care, seeking commitment to advocate increased focus on chronic and severe non-communicable diseases within existing healthcare delivery systems.

Moeti said: ‘The surge in the number of NCDs on our continent over the past two decades is driven by increasing incidences of risk factors, such as u
nhealthy diets, reduced mental activity, obesity, and air pollution.’

She urged African governments to step up efforts and embrace the PEN-Plus initiative to ensure that targets would be met.

‘Severe NCDs such as Type 1 Diabetes, rheumatic heart disease and sickle cell disease, more frequently affect children and young adults, the majority of Africa’s population.

‘Africa must invest more now in addressing NCDs with adequate and sustained resources.

‘We are continuing to invest in reducing the high burden of premature mortality from chronic and severe disease within the context of Universal Health Coverage.

‘Despite our member-states’ efforts, we have a huge challenge in NCDS in Africa,’ she said.

According to the official, data from low-income countries shows that 26 per cent of total health spending is due to NCDs, second only to infectious and parasitic diseases.

‘This means it is urgent to give these often-neglected diseases the priority and attention they deserve.”

She said that the rapid evoluti
on with a higher mortality rate had not been adequately recognised because of inadequate investment and lack of diligence in knowing the diseases.

Also, Elke Wisch, UNICEF Representative in Tanzania, who represented the UN Resident Coordinator in Tanzania, noted that children had become at great risk of NCDs.

‘Beyond the general picture of NCDs, we also have severe conditions that pose acute stages in individuals affected by these conditions.

‘Diseases such as sickle cell anemia, rheumatic heart diseases and Type 1 Diabetes do not only affect adults but also impact children and adolescents in significant numbers here, in Tanzania, and other countries in Africa.”

Wisch said that the diseases, if not priority attention, would remain a cause of mortality in children and adolescents.

‘The United Nations system is consciously aware of the profound impact that NCDs have on individuals, families and entire societies and nations.

‘These diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, cancer diabetes and chronic r
espiratory diseases, pose significant challenges to our healthcare systems and the well-being of our countries.’

Recognising the gravity of the consequences of not addressing NCDs, especially for children and adolescents, Mr James Reid of Helmsley Charitable Trust, suggested ways to address the situation.

He advised that all efforts and investments in addressing NCDs should be focused on integrating NCD care seamlessly into existing health systems.

‘The key to achieving UHC lies in expanding primary healthcare, especially in low-resource and humanitarian settings.

‘Collaborative, cross-sector strategies, innovative investments and a focus on integrating NCD care into existing health systems are all keys to achieving health for all,” he said.

He said that successful models such as PEN-Plus had demonstrated the effectiveness of empowering nurses and mid-level providers to integrate NCD care into the ongoing continuum of primary healthcare.

Through the PEN-Plus initiative, governments in the African regio
n are working on strengthening preventive measures, promoting healthy lifestyles and ensuring access to quality healthcare services at the primary healthcare levels where many people seek healthcare services.

Also, SDG 3.4 calls for all member-states to reduce premature deaths from NCDs by one-third in 2030 through prevention, treatment and promoting mental health and well-being.

However, a number of low- and middle-income countries are not on track to actualising SDG target 3.4 to reduce NCD mortality.

From the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the same indices resonate, with NCDs and other conditions rising and threatening the continent’s vision of achieving and building an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa driven by its own citizens.

However, as highlighted in the AU Agenda 2063, addressing the menace will also involve addressing these conditions with a multi-faceted approach.

Dr Mohammed Abdulaziz, Head, Division of Disease Control and Prevention, Africa CDC, af
firmed that a multi-faceted and integrated approach to solving some of the major health system obstacles in the delivery of NCDs Treatment and Prevention and Control Plan, was needed.

‘Our approach must prioritise the individual and families impacted by NCDs.

‘We must ensure equitable access to essential medicines and services for everyone for everyone.”

According to him, as agreed by the AU heads of state, there is need to set up a pool procurement mechanism to strengthen and see if this will help in getting essential medication and access to health products for these high-burden diseases.

Also, he stressed the need for the integration of data which should be collected nationally, through surveillance.

Achieving these goals, he said, also required bridging the funding gap for Africa for the NCDs programmes across the continent.

‘We have no choice but to also push for domestic finance. We know that very few of our countries are reaching the 15 per cent mark budget for health, the Abuja declaration.

f we can show to all what we are doing, that our government should, in putting more funding into health, put more in the area of NCDs, it will be good to help us reach that target”.

In conclusion, the path ahead toward addressing NCDS requires collaboration, communication, innovation and a human-centred approach.

There is need for increased investment toward prevention, research and care for childhood NCDs, with access to equitable care and support given priority attention, leaving no one behind.

These can be achieved when governments and leaderships are committed to stepping up efforts and embracing initiatives such as the PEN-Plus initiative, to ensure that targets are met.

In so doing, aside adults, African children and adolescents can hope for a brighter future without the scare of living with or sliding into eternity with NCDS, when it could have been prevented or optimally-managed.

At present, 20 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are at various stages of initiating, implementing or scaling up PEN-Pl

It is estimated that no fewer than 10,000 people are receiving treatment for severe NCDs in PEN-Plus Clinics across 11 Sub-Saharan countries.

By 2030, the WHO’s goal is for 70 per cent of African region member-tates to have national plans for integrated care, NCD training for health workers, and essential medicines in district hospitals.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Grootfontein puts Redforce agreement on hold

The Grootfontein Municipality has put on hold its decision to enforce an agreement it entered into with Redforce Debt Management.

This was announced by Grootfontein Mayor Talitha Garises, who said the agreement was set to be implemented on 01 May 2024 for the debt management company to, on behalf of the municipality, collect an amount of N.dollars 213 million in outstanding debt owed by residents to the municipality.

Garises in a media statement on Friday said the decision was taken due to the finalisation of some internal modalities and to also allow defaulters to make payment arrangements with the municipality’s financial department, while the council plans to further engage the community through public meetings.

The mayor, however, did not mention the time frame for which the municipality intends to put the agreement on hold, but noted that the decision is the outcome of a special council meeting held on Thursday at the Grootfontein Municipality Council Chambers.

The meeting was prompted by a demonstra
tion of more than 300 residents who took to the streets on 26 April, denouncing the agreement the municipality entered into with Redforce to collect arrears on its behalf.

The Swapo Party regional leadership last month and on Thursday condemned the decision to engage Redforce Debt Management, saying residents are already struggling to pay rates and taxes, and called for respectful debt collection methods between the residents, government offices and businesses with outstanding accounts.

Source: The Namibia Press Agency

Strong credit score will enhance higher funding for MSMEs – Expert

A financial expert, Mr Gbemi Adelekan, has advised Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to ensure a solid repayment history to enhance their credit scores and improve their access to funding.

Adelekan, also the Chief Executive Officer of KwikPay Credit, gave the advice on Saturday in Lagos in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

KwikPay Credit is a financial services provider and licensed lender by Trafalgar Associates, approved by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC).

Adelekan said that in Nigeria, accessing credit facilities was crucial for individuals and enterprises to meet various financial needs and increase circulation of disposable income and engender business sustainability.

He emphasised that a strong repayment history would enhance access to higher levels of funding that would enable expansion of small businesses into larger enterprises and increase their performances.

‘A short-term loan with a solid repayment history can significantly enhance your credit score in a short period.

‘This improvement in your creditworthiness opens up greater opportunities to secure larger loan amounts in future applications,’ he said.

Adelekan said that short and quick loans had helped many small businesses to navigate murky economic terrains, particularly those operating under the informal bracket.

‘An ice block maker, that hair dresser on the street, the welder whose machine needs to work and other artisans may be unable to go to big banks or development finance institutions to ask for small loans.

‘They may not have the requisite paperwork. Accessing small and quick loans online has saved many of these businesses from collapse.

‘Fortunately, the money lending sector is fully regulated by the FCCPC, and the rights of borrowers are very much protected,’ he said.

He said that non-repayment of loans had adverse effects.

‘Owing money for a long time and watching the interest accrue on such a facility can have a psychological effect,’ he said.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

100 Days in Office: Kogi residents score Ododo high

Lokoja residents have scored Gov. Usman Ododo of Kogi, high in terms of delivering democracy dividends to the people in his first 100 days in office.

A cross section of residents, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lokoja, described Ododo as a promising and committed governor that could help develop the state in a very short while.

Ododo was sworn into office on Jan. 27 after winning the Kogi Nov. 11 Off-Cycle election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Mrs Idris oyiza, a civil servant, lauded the governor for ensuring monthly salary payment for workers in the state, saying that he had outshined his predecessor in the area of workers welfare.

‘The payment of salaries of civil servants is now 100 per cent, and very regular, which has raised the hope of workers that better days are coming.

‘Water that used to be very scarce is available as our taps are running well now. We only want him to help us talk to the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) to supply us with electricity regularly too, ‘ she said.

Mrs Suleiman Zainab, a business woman, said that Ododo had recorded some major achievements in his 100 days in office.

Zainab appealed to Ododo to introduce some economic policies and programmes that would capture other residents, especially those who were vulnerable.

‘We want this government to support we the small and medium entrepreneurs with loans and other incentives for us to succeed in our businesses and in turn boost the economy of the state, ‘ she said

Mr Ibrahim Abubakar, a commercial cyclist, urged the governor to introduce some control on some union officials collecting illegal levies on cyclists without remitting it to government coffers.

Also speaking, Mrs Victoria Jagboro, Provost, College of Education Technical, Mopa, Kogi, said that Ododo had been able to ensure peace in the state within his few days in office.

Jagboro said that the governor was averse to disunity of any kind.

‘Yours, is no doubt, a new beginning for our dear state.

‘We appreciate your commitment to the well-being of the citizenry and your dogged commitment to the education sector.

‘Be rest assured that we will stand by you on this remarkable feat of moving our dear state forward, support all actions that will be taken and mobilise our members to embrace the programs and policies of your administration,’ she said.

Retired Cmd Jerry Omodara, the Security Adviser to the governor, described Ododo as an outstanding leader, commended him for the improved security of lives and property in the state.

‘Ododo’s sterling leadership qualities have resulted in a peaceful atmosphere in Kogi in just his 100 days in office.

‘His policies and programmes have supported the overall development of the state, and as well as the well-being of the people of the state.

‘Most laudable is Ododo’s open door administrative policy to Kogi people along his giant strides in tackling insecurity in the state,’ he said.

Mr Bashiru Gegu, the state’s Commissioner for Solid Minerals and Natural Resources, congratulated the governor and his deputy, Mr JoelOyibo-Salifu, on their first 100 days in office.

The commissioner said that the 100 days of the governor had been full of activities that had had a positive impact on the lives of the residents of the state.

‘In fact, we have seen our governor’s genuine commitment to sustaining the legacies of development and performance of former Gov. Yahaya Bello.

‘We have equally seen exceptional drive for excellence and good governance.

‘This is the way we are congratulating our governor and wishing him more fruitful years in office to keep raising the hope of the citizens,’ he said.

Also speaking, the chairman of the state chapter of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Alhaji Danladi Aliyu, commended the governor for tackling the security challenge facing the state.

Aliyu said that the donation of 42 motorcycles to the local government councils for security was a pointer to the fact that Ododo’s administration placed great premium on the well-being of the people.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

UK committed to strengthening bilateral relations with Nigeria -Envoy

The British High Commissioner in Nigeria, Dr Richard Montgomery, has expressed commitment to strengthening existing relationship between the United Kingdom and Nigeria.

Montgomery made the commitment in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja, in commemoration of his first anniversary in Nigeria.

He said the UK had stepped up its engagement with Nigeria and recorded a significant increase in areas of trade and security, in 2023.

According to the envoy, it is obvious that both countries have a very strong set of people-to – people links with a huge Nigerian heritage that works and lives in the UK, just like there is a huge British population with dual nationality in Nigeria.

He said that his first year in office was partly driven by the inauguration of President Bola Tinubu and the need for the UK to get to know the new government in Nigeria.

He added that one of the highlights of his first year was when he hosted the former foreign secretary of the UK, James Cleverly, who vi
sited President Bola Tinubu in early August 2023.

Montgomery said that Cleverly met with business leaders and partners across government, adding that after the meeting with Tinubu, both countries agreed to work in three areas.

The British Envoy listed the areas as security, trade and investment, and ‘reasonable cooperation’.

‘Both countries will need to step up their security independence, and they should strongly enhance the trade and investment between them,’ he said.

He called on African countries to unite and ensure that democracy thrives on the continent.

‘They should have a reasonable cooperation because the Nigerian President was the chairman of ECOWAS when a difficult development occurred in the region, like the coup in Niger.

‘There was a discussion on these regional issues and how the UK can support,’ he said.

He commended members of staff of the British High Commission for their professionalism and efficiency.

‘I am pleased to say that I have fantastic teams at the British High Commission.

They work on security and defense, enhanced trade and investment, and they also work on migration, visa and home affairs.

‘We have a large development cooperation programmes and technical assistance in key areas, and we need to talk about regional and global foreign policy issues with the Government of Nigeria.

‘So, my team has been working on these areas, and I think that was the second big highlight of my first year, and in February, we signed a couple of new detailed agreements.

‘In February, we had a big UK security and defence delegation, military security foreign policy, counterterrorism delegates, and they were hosted by the Nigerian National Security Adviser.

The Nigerian national security adviser convened all the leadership from Nigeria Security Defense architecture, and we held several days of tours in Abuja.

‘And at the end of that, we signed a new security and defence partnership, through which we can collaborate in areas like defense and counterterrorism.

‘Other areas are cyber security, c
ountering violent extremism, serious organised crime, policing, and also upholding human rights.

‘We now have a detailed work plan of operation and security defence,’ he said.

He said that in February, Kemi Badenoch, Secretary of State for Business and Trade, visited Nigeria and had been working with her counterpart at the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.

‘We have agreed on a range of sectors which we are now working on such as agriculture, the creative industries, legal and financial services, education partnerships and to increase mutual trade and investment between the UK and Nigeria.

‘And my third highlight is the ability to get around this amazing country and I have managed to visit some states like Sokoto, Taraba, Borno , Rivers and Enugu.

‘I also visit Lagos regularly, and I have been to a number of states in between.

‘Getting across this country has been a huge highlight and I will like to use this opportunity to thank some people for their warm hospitality.

‘I thank the gove
rnors, traditional leaders, the business people and civil society across the country.’

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

UniAbuja Strike: CONUA dissociates self, says action baseless

The Congress of University Academics (CONUA), University of Abuja Chapter, has dissociated itself from the ongoing strike by the university branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

The Chairman, CONUA, University of Abuja Chapter, Prof. Abdul Buba, said this when the group paid a courtesy visit to the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah in Abuja on Friday.

Buba said the university system could not be grounded because it had no Governing Council, a decision that informed the industrial action.

‘We believe in stable academic calendar and that’s why we believe that there are other ways of handling labour issues rather than strike actions.

‘CONUA addresses issues and not personalities. We also respect opinions of our members and not a predetermined objective of the leadership.

‘We address issues without sentiments and meet with the right stakeholders in the pursue of our objectives.

‘We are conscious of the negative effects of strikes, and we believe in deploying relevant strateg
ies that will yield positive results in modern age of innovation,’ he said.

He added that CONUA would continue to engage relevant stakeholders to pursue legitimate welfare for its members without dabbling with issues not of the concern to its members.

‘The ongoing strike in place in the university, CONUA is not part of it because we believe in academic and service delivery.

‘All these five points for the strike are baseless.

‘Let me start with the issue of advertorial for the position of vice chancellor, initially if it were that the council is in place everything about employment both the employees and the principal officers start and end with the university governing council.

‘But in the absence of the university governing council, the law has no provision for the vice chancellor to appoint any successor so it is the responsibility of the government to do that. So, there is no way the VC can be accused.

‘This is because even the advertorial, if you watch and other advertorial that were placed by other
universities, it was mentioning the ministry representing the government so this is baseless,’ he said.

Also, the CONUA Secretary, Prof. Issa Abdulraheem, urged the union to focus on the welfare of its members which was the sole role of establishing a union.

‘The union is established to cater for the welfare of its members, all the issues raised by the other union are baseless and have nothing to do with the staff welfare.

‘And so we believe that we have ways of handling issues with stakeholders without sentiments of personalising issues. All the points raised by the other unions are not in the interest of its members,’he said.

On his part, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah, appreciated CONUA for its stance in not joining the strike, hoping that academic programme by ASUU would commence soon.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the University of Abuja ASUU branch had embarked on a total and indefinite strike on May 2 over alleged university’s refusal to conduct
elections for the office of the Dean’s of faculties and Provost College of Health Sciences.

The Union also accused the university of carrying out promotion of some staffers without following due process.

Other reasons for the strike, according to the Union include, ‘Advertorial of the vacancy of the post of the Vice Chancellor without following due process, among others.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Only PhD students eligible to bring dependents to UK – Envoy

The UK says only international students coming in for their Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) studies are eligible to bring in dependents to the country.

Dr Richard Montgomery, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja.

He said that the educational system policy, which changed early 2024, for international students in higher education not to bring dependents into the UK, was to curb the increase of foreign student bringing in dependents.

He explained that the huge surge in dependence was putting an unsustainable pressure on many universities, adding that it was the reason these changes were introduced.

Montgomery added that before his posting as High Commissioner to Nigeria, he had spoken to some of the universities on the policy change, of which had been in the pipeline for some time.

He noted that the Chancellors of the universities had complained of the huge student populations, highlighting that accommodation was a huge
challenge, including access to medical services under the National Health Service and access to school if they brought in dependents.

According to him, the restrictions do not apply to all categories, adding that those doing a long term research degree, like a PhD or doctorate are not affected.

‘Those coming to the UK for doctorate can still bring their dependents but if you are coming to the UK with a study visa for an undergraduate degree, or short term master’s degree, I’m afraid the rules have been changed.

‘People need to understand why this change was brought in, and it is a sensible change because we have a large higher education sector and most of these universities are in towns across the country.

‘There has been a surge recently, in demand for British education and I can give you the macro figures and there has also been a huge increase in foreign students bringing their dependants.

‘In the case of Nigeria, in 2019, before the Coronavirus pandemic, there were only one and a half thousand depend
ents being brought in from Nigeria, with those on study visas,

‘In 2022, that figure had increased to 52,000 dependants; so, that’s a thirty fold increase in dependence. And it’s not just about Nigeria by the way.

‘It is also about all foreign students. We saw similar rises, for example, amongst Indian students coming to study in the UK,’ he added

Speaking on the policy initiation, he said: ‘It is early to ascertain the impact of the policy on undergraduates because these changes were announced in 2023, but came into effect early this year.

‘And we would have to wait until September 2024 before we get the next run of academic tickets.

‘I think what your wider audience needs to hear is that the demand for UK education is really strong.

‘In 2022, 65,000 study visas were approved to Nigerian applicants, 65,000, while in September 2023 we received about 115,000 Study visa applications from Nigeria.

‘Of which 95 per cent were approved and over 110,000 study visas were issued last September compared to 65,00
0 of the previous year, there’s almost a doubling of Nigerian study visas in 2023 which means the demand is really high.

‘And it is something which I am genuinely pleased and proud about that the UK has such a good higher educational sector and we are still at the six economy, and is still one of the biggest economies but we are only 2.5 per cent of the global economy.

‘So, we have 17 of the top 100 universities in the world. We have 17 per cent of the top universities, so it is one of our units.

‘I really like the demand but there are other factors at play in terms of schooling in the UK. The value of the Naira in the coming months will also determine how easy or hard it will be for many people to afford our education.

‘I am hoping that the demand will be sustained,’ he said.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Muslim lawyers’ll foster peaceful coexistence among different religious, ethnic groups – President

Mr Saidu Muhammad, the newly-elected President of Muslim Lawyers’ Association of Nigeria (MULAN), says the association will foster peaceful coexistence among different religious and ethnic groups in Nigeria.

He stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Ibadan.

NAN reports that Muhammad emerged the new MULAN president at the association’s 15th Annual General Conference held between Friday and Saturday in Ibadan.

He said that the association would strive to identify areas of potential conflicts and nip them in the bud in order to promote peaceful coexistence in the country.

Muhammad also said that the association would reach out to other groups such as Christian Lawyers’ Association of Nigeria, to promote inter-faith harmony and understanding.

According to him, under no circumstance should any misunderstanding among Muslims, Christians and people from other religions degenerate into violence or conflict in Nigeria.

‘I intend to reinvent MULAN and take it to a higher le
vel of relevance in state, regional and national affairs.

‘We will partner with students, youths and women to interface with governments at all levels in order to address their problems and concerns,’ he said.

Muhammad further stated that the association would be much more than just a pressure group of like-minded peers

‘It will become a vibrant voice for re-awakening public consciousness, dialogue and action,’ he said.

The association’s goal, according to him, is to work for the common good of all Nigerians and the Islamic religion.

He said that the association would also strive to eradicate ignorance, suspicion and distrust among Muslims through an active campaign and public engagements.

‘We must be recognised as a force for the good of all, national integration, ethnic cohesion and, above all, religious tolerance and understanding,’ he said.

Muhammad said that the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, being a MULAN member, is on an important seat whic
h the association could leverage to achieve its objectives and plans for Nigeria and Nigerians.

He pledged the association’s support to Fagbemi to enhance his success in his position through concrete steps such as initiating and endorsing executive bills for passage into law, among others.

The MULAN president noted that the country was currently facing challenges in the areas of employment, education, culture and politics.

He, therefore, urged Nigerians to work together to address the challenges in the interest of peace, progress and development of the country.

He called on the government to provide an enabling environment for businesses to thrive and give youths a sense of belonging.

‘Government must also cut down the cost of governance, which is one of the highest in the world, and ensure that leaders are not allowed to become looters,’ he added.

He promised to ensure protection of the interests of Muslims in the country, be it legal or otherwise.

‘I will encourage recognition, respect and integratio
n of Islamic principles and practices in legal proceedings and statutes at all levels of government,’ he said.

NAN reports that Muhammad, who was born on April 17, 1969, is a 1994 graduate of Bayero University, Kano (BUK).

He holds a Masters degree in Law from the same university, specialising in Company and Labour Relations Law.

He had, at various times, acted as an advocate, solicitor and arbitrator, with considerable experience, both locally and internationally, in dispute resolution and complex transactions.

The new MULAN president, currently the managing partner of the law firm of S.D. Muhd and Co., is a member of many professional bodies, including International Bar Association, African Bar Association and the Nigerian Bar Association.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

OTC 2024: PETAN leads stakeholders on sustainable energy solutions for Africa’s future

The Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN) has led delegates to the 2024 Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, Texas U.S., to discuss sustainable energy solutions for Africa’s future.

Mr Kevin Nwanze, Executive Secretary, PETAN, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday in Lagos.

Nwanze said that PETAN’s Nigerian pavilion at OTC 2024 would be hosted under the theme, ‘Sustainable Energy Solutions for Africa’s Future’.

He said that the conference would have more than 200 hours of multidisciplinary discussions and networking events, including a wide range of topics, suited for every participant.

PETAN scribe, however, called for stakeholders’ participation at the 2024 OTC, holding between May 6 and May 9 at the NRG Park, Houston, Texas, U.S.

Nwanze also said that PETAN had been responsible for hosting stakeholders at the OTC for many years.

He said, ‘The association is calling on government agencies, stakeholders, oil and gas companies, and Nigerian investors to participate at the Nig
erian pavilion at the prestigious event in Houston, U.S.

‘Participation in the Nigerian pavilion shall deliver a unique opportunity for exhibitors and delegates to interact with global professionals as they share their insights on technological advances, energy transition, safety, environmentally focused solutions, and economic and regulatory impacts of the offshore energy sector.

‘It allows organisations to engage with world leaders, CEOs, and government officials from around the world, with the chance to create and develop business relationships.

‘It also tap into emerging regions vital to offshore development and obtaining recognition necessary for growth and visibility to thousands across the globe.

‘The event will showcase company’s capabilities to over 1,000 delegates and over 250 companies in the industry, promote products and services to operators and contractors in the local region.

‘It will help participants to gain access to the latest industry news and access to networking opportunities with
professional contacts from across the world.’

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that OTC 2024 expects over 31,000 energy professionals as attendees, 45 technical sessions, 450 presentations and over 1,300 exhibitors drawn from different countries, including Nigeria.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Water, Sanitation ministry urged to implement hand hygiene roadmap

The Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation (FMWRS) has been called upon to implement and disseminate the National Roadmap to Hand Hygiene for All (HH4A), spanning from 2021 to 2025.

The call was made in a press statement to commemorate World Hand Hygiene Day on May 5, signed by Ms. Ganiyat Afolayan, the Communications Officer at Mangrove and Partners Limited (MPL) on Sunday.

The statement emphasised the critical importance of handwashing, noting its capacity to prevent up to 50 per cent of avoidable infections acquired during healthcare delivery.

According to the statement, hand hygiene has a means to reduce infectious diarrhea cases by 23-40 per cent, particularly among individuals with weakened immune systems, and to decrease school absenteeism by over 50 per cent.

The organisation stressed the urgent need for innovative training and education to enhance knowledge and capacity building among health and care workers, particularly in infection prevention and control, including hand hygiene.

folayan highlighted the crucial role of media practitioners and WASH experts in raising awareness and sensitising the public on the importance of hand hygiene.

She noted the necessity of implementing the National Roadmap to Hand Hygiene for All (2021-2025) to address hand hygiene issues effectively in healthcare facilities and among caregivers.

‘Nigeria developed a road map to hand hygiene for all in the year 2021. However, since its launch on September 6, 2022, and one year to its endline date, the document has been unavailable to the public.

‘Its dissemination and implementation has been stalled by a lack of funding for Hygiene related activities’.

Afolayan, quoting WHO, emphasised its fundamental role in safe and effective healthcare systems and its contribution to achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.8 on universal health coverage.

Regarding Nigeria’s current hand hygiene landscape, Afolayan pointed out the inadequate access to basic hygiene services, with only 17 per cent of households hav
ing such access.

She also highlighted the disparities in proper handwashing practices, with proper demonstration standing at a mere 8 per cent.

Afolayan lamented the challenges faced in implementing the hand hygiene roadmap since its launch in 2021, attributing the delay to a lack of funding for hygiene-related activities.

Despite Nigeria’s ambitious investment goal of $2.5 billion over five years to achieve hand hygiene for all by 2025, Afolayan emphasised the pivotal role of government funding in realising this vision.

Afolayan however, urged the federal government to prioritise hand hygiene initiatives and allocate adequate resources for their implementation.

She emphasised the need for concerted efforts from all stakeholders to ensure a healthier and safer future for all Nigerians.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Nigeria Road-map to Hand Hygiene for All (2021-2025) adopts a three-phased approaches.

They are; Response, focusing on immediate COVID-19 needs; Rebuild, aimed at reconst
ructing hand hygiene systems; and Re-imagine and Sustain, establishing a long-term hygiene culture.

It identifies political leadership for budget allocation and advocacy; an enabling environment for policies and technical capacity; and increasing demand and supply for behavior change and logistics as key components.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Chad Presidential election: Nigeria’s special envoy sues for peace, order

Amb. Babagana Kingibe, Nigeria’s Special Envoy to Chad and the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), has called on candidates, political parties and the general public to uphold peace during the Chad presidential election.

The presidential election is scheduled for May 6.

Kingibe, in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) on Sunday in Abuja, urged Chadians to maintain the relative peace and good order demonstrated during the campaigns.

He implored Chadians to remain calm after voting and patiently await the announcement of the outcome of the elections by Chad’s National Election Management Agency (ANGE).

The special envoy said that any grievance that might arise from the polls should be channeled to the appropriate authorities.

‘On the eve of the historic presidential election in Chad, I congratulate the transitional authorities in Chad, the Chadian people and all friends of Chad for the journey so far towards the return of the country to a democratic constitutional order through peac
eful elections.

‘As the Special Envoy to Chad of the LCBC, and, as mandated by the Summit of Heads of State and Governments of the LCBC, I and my team have, since May 2021, closely followed and accompanied the Chadian people and the Government in their transition process.

‘Throughout this journey, the Chadian people and the transitional authorities exhibited great patriotism, mutual tolerance, and the necessary spirit of compromise in order to change the Chadian narratives and now commit to build a peaceful, stable and prosperous democratic country.’

Kingibe said that the transition process had not been easy or without often heated contentions.

He noted, however, that Chadians confronted all the challenges, weathered all the political and security storms and were on the cusp of the final lap.

‘Therefore, I call on all the presidential candidates, the political parties and leaders, and the general public to maintain the relative peace and good order demonstrated during the campaigns.

‘Continue to remain
calm; and after the voting, patiently await the announcement of the outcome of the elections by the ANGE, the body legally authorised to announce the results.

‘I further urge that any challenges, complaints or grievances that may arise are taken up peacefully for settlement through the constituted electoral guidelines and laws, or if necessary, the judicial processes.

‘The alternative is to risk the tremendous progress and the fruits of the great sacrifices already made by all parties.

‘I wish to reassure the continued support to Chad of the Leaders of the LCBC as they look forward to the peaceful inauguration of a new democratic constitutional order in the country,” he said.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Fathers Day: Abuja cleric urges Christians to show love

Rev. Fr. Bernard Desben of the Missionary of St. Paul (MSP), has urged Christian faithful in Nigeria to put their love in action, just as Christ did to his church.

Desben gave the advice during his homily on Sunday at St. Luke Catholic Chaplaincy, Gwagwalada, Abuja during the celebration of Fathers Day.

According to him, one of the most important things today is the theme of love which is coming from John, Chapter 15, verse 9 – 17.

‘In the gospel of John, Jesus let his disciples to know that the greatest love one can show for his friends is to sacrifice his life for his friends.

‘So, we as Christians having been baptised in Christ and we receive new life in Christ, and as we live our Christian calling, we are trying to seal that love,’ Desben said.

The reverend said that Christians should be obedient to God’s commandments which is ‘to love one another’.

He said that love required action which should be expressed by charity.

Speaking on the importance of fathers, Desben said that fathers are pillars in
the church, adding that while the mother’s love is that of nurturing, oftentimes father’s love complements mother’s love.

‘Oftentimes the father’s love substitutes for what the mother’s love cannot give,’ he said.

Desben urged families to always appreciate their fathers while encouraging fathers to look into their grey areas and make amend.

Similarly, Most Rev. Fr. Augustus Essien (MSP), the Pioneer Priest of the Chaplaincy, while congratulating the Catholic Men Organisation (CMO) of the Chaplaincy, advised Christians to love and be in love with one another.

Essien also prayed that God would strengthen the fathers to remain the pillars of the church, and encouraged them to continue to support the church.

In his speech, Dr Ezekiel Alagboso, the President of CMO of the Chaplaincy, on behalf of the members pledged to uphold the sanctity of fatherhood and cherish the priceless gift of family as the domestic church.

Alagboso thanked God for the blessings of fatherhood and the boundless love of the heavenly F

He prayed that His divine grace would continue to guide and bless the members in their endeavours.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the highlight of the occasion was the awards given to the pioneer members including the pioneer priest.

St. Luke Catholic Chaplaincy, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, was created in 1996 with the Most Rev. Fr. Augustus Essie as the pioneer priest.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

We’ll take Ijaw struggle beyond Nigeria – INC

The Ijaw National Congress (INC) says time has come to take the ‘Ijaw struggle’ beyond Nigeria.

The INC stated this position in a communique at the end of 2024 edition of the Ijaw National Day Celebration held in Yenagoa.

The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that the communique was signed by Prof. Benjamin Okaba, President of INC.

Okaba said that the vexatious factors that provoked grievances between the late Maj. Adaka Boro and the federal government in the improper management of the oil political economy of Nigeria, had remained unmitigated.

He noted that the situation had worsened with its attendant impunity.

According to him, the Ijaw environment continues to bear the brunt of petroleum resources exploitation-related pollution without concomitant remediation or reparations of the heavily despoiled ecosystem.

‘Instead, Ijaw communities still face the adverse effects of uncontrollable spills, perennial flooding, ocean encroachment and so on.’

The INC president noted that at different forums, it ha
d been made clear that the Ijaw agenda of self-determination was premised on resource and environmental justice.

‘What all Ijaw people seek is for a fair, just and justifiable reward for our resources and sacrifices.

‘The Ijaw Congress has articulated a set of prescient conditions for its continuous commitment to the Nigerian project and these include restoration of true federalism (fiscal federalism).

‘Devolution of power and repel of all obnoxious and discriminatory environmental and resource related laws (Land Use, PIA), as well as restoration of Ijaw Territory as non-balkanised, administrative and politically generated unit(s).

‘This is for the reassurance and promotion of Ijaw developmental pursuits by creating at least two additional states, more local government areas and wards for the Ijaws.

‘Remediation of our massively polluted and endangered environment and the enforcement of adherence to international environmental best practices by IOC’s operating in Ijaw territories,’ he said.

Okaba also d
emanded for the relocation of the administrative headquarters of all oil companies and their subsidiaries to their operational bases in Ijaw territory and Niger Delta.

He further called for proper funding and management of the Interventionist Agencies such as the Presidential Amnesty Programme and Niger Delta Development Commission.

‘We call for the promotion of modular refineries owned by our people.

‘We also want a balance in appointment at the federal levels (the civil service, military and oil companies) as well as equitable distribution of critical infrastructure, to reflect the true principles of federal character.’

He said it was against this backdrop that the theme of the 2024 Ijaw National Day ‘Re-Invigorating Our Resolve to take the Ijaw struggle for Self-determination beyond Rhetoric’ was derived.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Erasmus and Van Schoor win Tour de Windhoek

WINDHOEK: South African riders Alexander Erasmus and Kelsey-Jade van Schoor were on Sunday crowned as the individual overall winners of the seventh edition of the Pupkewitz Tour de Windhoek.

The cycling event was held for four days, from Thursday, 02 May to Sunday, 05 May 2024. Riders from Namibia, Botswana, RĂ©union, South Africa and Angola participated in the event.

After four days of exciting cycling in and around Windhoek, 18-year-old Erasmus from South Africa was declared the overall winner of the event when he completed the race in seven hours, twenty-four minutes, and thirty-four seconds (07:24:34).

Brandon Downes and Blaine Kieck, who rode for the South African team TEG ProCycling Team, finished closely behind Erasmus. Downes and Kieck completed the race with an overall time of 07:24:54 and 07:25:21, respectively.

In the men’s category, Martin Freyer, Daniel Hahn, and Brandon Plaatjies were the only Namibians who made it to the top ten list on the log standing, in fourth, sixth, and ninth places, r

In the women’s category, Van Schoor was declared the champion of the tour, completing it in 06:04:48. Anri Greeff from Namibia followed her, finishing with a time of 06:05:30. Lucy Young, another South African, secured the last spot on the podium by finishing just a few seconds behind Greeff, with a time of 06:05:54.

In a speech read on his behalf, the Namibia Cycling Federation (NCF) President Axel Thiessen said the Pupkewitz Tour de Windhoek attracted an exciting record of cyclists from different countries.

‘The NCF is in talks with the African Cycling Confederation (CAC) to get this multi-stage road race accredited by the International Cycling Union (UCI). We want the event to be popular just like the Nedbank Desert Dash,’ he said.

He added that the achievements of the riders have elevated the city’s standards.

At the same event, Deputy Mayor of Windhoek Joseph Uapingeni praised the cyclists for their dedication, discipline, and unwavering commitment.

‘The cycling event should be a motiv
ation for Namibians to use cycling as a mode of transport which is healthier. We should now start using bicycles to travel to work and school,’ he said. while also acknowledging the sponsors for their contribution to the success of the event.

Source: The Namibia Press Agency

Premier League outfits book spots in FA Cup Round of 16

WINDHOEK: Debmarine Namibia Premier League teams secured their spots in the round of 16 of the PSTBet Namibia Football Association (NFA) Cup, which resumed on Sunday in both Grootfontein and Windhoek.

The Football Association Cup commenced in April this year with elimination rounds, where lower division teams competed for a spot in the round of 32. This year, the NFA Cup has made history by running a women’s competition concurrently with their male counterparts for the first time.

In the round of 32 that was played in Windhoek and Grootfontein, Okahandja United became the first team to secure their spot in the round of 16 after successfully defeating Youngsters 3-1 at the Independence Stadium.

While in Grootfontein, FC Ongo secured their place in the next round of the competition with a single goal scored by Nicodemus Haikali against African United.

Rundu-based Julinho Sporting emerged victorious with an 8-1 win over Rehoboth-based Friends Football Club in a nine-goal scoring match.

Mapenzi Muwanei was t
he star of the match, scoring four goals. His teammates Victor Hara, Gerson Paulus, Kativa Ngongo, and Mahupe Ngonga each scored a goal, while Friends FC’s only goal of the match came from the head of Alfred Otto, who found the back of the net for his team when they only trailed by three goals in the second half.

In another match played in Grootfontein, Young African drew 1-1 with Golden Bigs, who play in the Northwest First Division Stream. However, the Gobabis-based Premier League outfit managed to win 5-3 on penalties.

Young Brazilians secured a spot in the round of 16 with an impressive 6-1 win against Hamutumbangela FC at the Independence Stadium.

Tigers FC also secured their spot in the next round of the competition with a 4-2 win against UNAM OGONGO in Grootfontein, coming from behind to score four goals at the Omulunga Stadium.

Source: The Namibia Press Agency