Nurturing Boy-Child to Save the Girl-Child

In most cultures, especially in Africa, preference to the boy-child has strong cultural, religious, legal and of course, social status.

This is principally because a male heir is needed to continue the family line.

The boy-child, faced with many challenges, especially in the 21st century, is often times not properly guided; hence the society tends to be losing him.

The African Charter on the Rights of the Child defines a child as anyone below the age of 18; hence a boy-child is a male offspring below the age of 18 years.

Unlike the boy-child, the girl-child has received massive campaign for her rights and protection, with increasing mainstream attention in public health care from the early 2000s.

While several initiatives to protect the female gender have continued to emerge, those for the male are sparse.

The female-centered initiatives include, inter alia, the International Day of the Girl Child, and UN’s coordinated International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), Cairo in 1994, and the
1995 Beijing Conference that highlighted concerns on women and girls’ empowerment and autonomy.

The initiatives also include laws and regulations against women trafficking and application of criminal laws to under-age sex, child-brides, and sex work

However, it is worthwhile to note that all children are future leaders of tomorrow and custodians of the future.

As such, the first aim of every family and society should be to raise healthy and productive individuals who are physically, psychologically, society and mentally well developed.

Analysts say that neglecting issues affecting the boy-child sets foundation for unbalanced male adult especially as he is the ‘father” of tomorrow, taking charge of families and females who leave their birth families after marriage.

Recognising the importance, the United Nations in 2018, adopted May 16 every year as the International Day of the Boy Child.

It was championed by Dr Jerome Teelucksingh, a university lecturer from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

The day
focuses on boys and their well-being, their needs to feel happy, healthy, and valued within family and community.

Dr Naeem Dalal, Advisor, Non-communicable Diseases, Injuries and Mental Health for Africa CDC, affirmed that boys were not taught to reach out for help; and this had detrimental effects.

‘Men are supposed to be responsible and breadwinners in communities; showing that part of vulnerability is not something that is accepted in our communities across the African continent in general.

‘And not just to stereotype it, but also to be factual that men are also taught not to be reaching out for help growing up as boys and boys are told to be strong and responsible.

‘So, this also causes an issue for men to reach out for mental health services, even when they are there; they may end up committing suicide.

‘These are the challenges we are facing; the boy-child is also human,” he said.

He advocated looking at mental health advocacy for communities, also in the direction of men’s health.

Commenting on
the boy-child, Ms Ifeoma Ibe, a Counsellor, said that boys , in the African setting, were brought up to be macho and it was reiterated in the family, school and church.

‘Some of the prototypes instilled in their minds are that the boy-child is stronger, usually more intelligent and more powerful than girl-child, and therefore, does not need protection as girl-child.

‘He is not expected to express his emotions or any weaknesses; he is to bear things, good or bad, `like a man’.

‘He is taught not to cry but always behave in a brave manner since boy-child is not to display their weakness; they tend to suffer in silence.

‘Society teaches males that they must be in control all the times,” she said.

Mrs Vivian Emejuobi, a Wellness Specialist, advised parents to invest time in training their male children to become responsible adults.

‘If the boy-child is properly groomed and nurtured, there will not be a girl-child abuse.

‘This proper education will encompass how to treat the opposite gender and it will help
to reduce rape and abuse cases in the society.

‘So, the same energy that parents use to bring up the girl-child should be replicated in the upbringing of the boy-child.

‘Massive advocacy and sensitisation is required to educate the boy-child to become better persons in the future,” she said.

A Nigerian author and novelist, Gbenga Sokefun, said that on human trafficking , efforts had been mostly on the girl-child.

According to him, the focus of these efforts has been primarily on female children, trafficked for purposes of prostitution and other forms of indentured servitude.

However, he called on leaders to also concentrate on human trafficking of the boy- child.

Sokefun, the author of a fiction, ‘Adigun’, said that trafficking of the African boy- child had received far less attention, despite the simple fact that it existed.

‘The pressures of poverty and the inherent psychological damage of colonialism have resulted in a brisk trade of young African boys and men under the auspices of narcotics smuggl

‘The perpetrators have created a pathway for the African male child whose solution to the inadequacies of the continent is escape to the ‘greener’ pastures of the Americas, Europe or anywhere away from the continent of Africa.

‘They prey on the dreams and desires of these gullible children who seek a better life on other continents.

‘These should be tackled,” he said

Lending their voices, some clerics said that bringing up the boy-child properly is a social responsibility that parents cannot delegate to others.

Pastor Chris Nmezi of the Spoken Word Ministry, Ojo Barracks, Lagos, advised parents to conduct themselves in exemplary manners , such that the children would follow same.

He described parents that quarrel and batter each other in the presence of the children as mentally deforming the children.

Nmezi cautioned parents to discard uncomplimentary habits towards others especially their spouses to prevent children from coping habits that would portray them as never do wells.

‘As gatekeepers w
hatever we condole or instill in the heads of the children by our actions or inactions that they will acquire.

‘Any boy that grows up seeing her mother being beaten by his father will see it as a tradition to beat his wife later in life,’ he said.

Sharing similar sentiments, Pastor Gladys Ododo urged parents not to do that which they would not be happy seeing their child indulge in.

Ododo said that parents especially men, indulge in drinking alcohol even around the home but would not like to see their children of school do same.

‘It is hypocritical; if you don’t want them in it, then stop it; children copy with ease what they see parents do than what parents told them.

‘Rising up voice at your spouse at every infraction or detestable conduct is sending wrong signal in the children and people around.

‘If there is need to correct anyone do so courteously without attracting unnecessary attention,’ she said.

As a way to help the boy-child, Mr Gaius Edem, a teacher, urged parents to encourage their boy-chil
d to engage in exercise, extra curriculum activities such as belonging to a positive club.

‘Parents, guardians and educators can encourage the boy-child to join positive clubs in schools or their religious gatherings.

‘It will also help young and growing child to channel their time and energy to meaningful and healthy activities,” he said.

In her input, Mrs Rosita Agomuo, an Educationist and Executive Coordinator of Safe mamahood, agreed that boys had been relegated to the background, as all attentions were on the girl-child.

Agomuo said that the interest of boys should be protected because they are also victims of abuse.

‘These abuses also affect boys psychologically but we do not always hear about it in the media; the focus has always been on the girl-child.

‘I believe CSOs and NGOs need to do more for the boy-child too by focusing on their peculiar needs and challenges to achieve gender equality,’ she said.

All in all, experts of the view that good training of a boy-child will help to achieve a saf
er world for the girls/women and humanity at large.

They say if well nurtured and groomed, the boy-child will conscientiously carry, just like the girl-child, the responsibility of fostering understanding, empathy and equality; thereby making a harmonious world for all. (NANFeatures)

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Foundation advocates equal support for male survivors of sexual abuse

The Life After Abuse Foundation (LAAF), a Non-governmental Organisation, has called for gender equality in access to support services for male survivors of sexual abuse.

Ms Halima Layeni, the Founder and Executive Director of the Foundation, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in commemoration of the International Day of the Boy-Child on Thursday in Lagos.

NAN reports that the International Day of the Boy-Child is celebrated annually on May 16 to raise awareness on the importance of health and wellbeing of young boys.

Layeni decried that sexual abuse against boys was more prevalent than before.

She said global statistics revealed that approximately one in six boys worldwide experienced some form of sexual abuse before adulthood.

According to her, these figures likely underestimate the true scope of the problem due to stigma, shame and societal disbelief.

‘One of the most troubling aspects of this crisis is the neglect of sexual abuse against boys.

‘Survivors frequently f
ace scepticism and blame, with their experiences dismissed due to harmful misconceptions.

‘The horrifying reality is that some believe if a boy experiences an erection during abuse, or actively participated in the act, somehow implies consent or enjoyment, perpetuating a culture of silence and shame, leaving survivors feeling isolated and invalidated,’ she said.

She emphasised that abuse perpetrated against boys below the age of consent constitutes rape, regardless of whether they actively participated in the act.

Layeni, who explained that the age of consent varied globally but typically ranges from 16 to 18 years old, stressed that any sexual activity with a child below the age of consent was a violation of their rights and was a criminal offence.

According to her, the long-term effect of sexual abuse on boys are profound, extending beyond immediate trauma.

She said that male survivors of sexual abuse often suffer psychological and emotional challenges, including depression, anxiety, and difficulties i
n forming healthy relationships.

The LAAF Founder added that the impacts of abuse could persist into adulthood, impacting self-esteem, ability to trust others, and overall well-being.

‘It is clear that urgent action is needed to address this crisis and safeguard the rights of the boy child.

‘We must advocate for policies that prioritise the well-being of boys and establish social support centres that offer specialised services exclusive to male survivors of sexual abuse.

‘These centres would provide a nurturing environment for boys to access the care and support needed for recovery.

‘Gender equality in access to support services for male survivors of sexual abuse is a fundamental human right.

‘As we commemorate the International Day of the Boy-Child, let us reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that all individuals, regardless of gender, receive the support and assistance they need to heal and thrive,’ Layeni said.

According to her, it is critical to also acknowledge that women can abuse and rape boys.

She said, ‘No survivor should be overlooked or dismissed based on the gender of their abuser and punishment for female perpetrators of abuse against boys must be enforced and taken seriously, just as it is for male perpetrators.

‘All survivors deserve justice and support, regardless of the gender of their abuser.

‘This equitable approach ensures that survivors are not further victimised by societal biases and that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions, irrespective of their gender,’

Layeni said that policy alone was not enough, saying that fellow men and parents also play a crucial role in confronting the crisis of sexual abuse against boys.

According to her, parents should play a crucial role in protecting their sons from abuse by fostering open communication, teaching boundaries and empowering them to speak up.

On the role of the fellow men, Layeni said it’s their responsibility to stand in solidarity with survivors and create a culture of empathy and support.

She said, ‘It is time to pu
t an end to the mockery and derision faced by boys and men who speak up about their experiences as survivors of sexual abuse.’

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

CCSI tasks journalists to intensify report on women’s health

The Technical Director of Centre for Communication and Social Impact (CCSI), an NGO, Oluyemi Abodunrin, has called for intensified reporting on women’s health.

Abodunrin made the call at a workshop organised by CCSI in collaboration with Pathfinder Medical and Public Health Sustainable And Advocacy Initiative (PHSAI) in Lagos.

She said the workshop was aimed at training journalists on effective reporting of women’s health issues in Lagos and Kano.

‘Government should partner journalists to facilitate effective reporting on women’s health issues.

‘The government should consider journalists as partners in progress, while journalists should see the government as a veritable source for news information’,

Abodunrin lamented the challenges journalists faced while trying to source adequate information from government personnel , to have a balanced and effective reporting on issues affecting women’s health.

The CCSI Technical Director urged journalists at the workshop to apply knowledge acquired to report more e
ffectively on maternal issues, skilled birth attendant and others issues related to women’s health.

Speaking also, Dr Sakina Bello, the Senior Programme Advisor for Pathfinder Medical, described the advocacy workshop as a ‘bridging gap’ project that would last for 12 month

Bello, who presented an overview on the project titled ‘Strengthening Multilevel Partnerships For Advancing Women’s Health In Nigeria’, said the project aim to tackle issues around antenatal, fertility and delivery issues.

She, however, urged the media to advocate more on women’s health by raising more awareness and do more investigative reporting to hold the government accountable.

‘We want the media to amplify women’s voices by creating a platform for them to share their health issues, challenges and triumph.

‘Amplify female healthcare experts’ voices, researchers and female healthcare advocate voices to ensure diverse perspectives and accurate information dissemination and women empowerment.

‘We hope for healthier women in Lagos an
d Kano States and this short project will hold for one year.

‘We’re working on something that will be long term, but after 12 months, we hope to see that advocacy platforms in Kano and Lagos are strengthen,’ she said.

Dr Victoria Omoera, the Lagos State Ministry of Health Director and Reproductive Health Coordinator, said women ought to be prioritised in government policies, especially in the health sector, for contributing about 50 per cent of the entire population.

Omoera said that women need more empowerment , noting that their needs surpassed the gender role assigned to them.

She identified the major women health concerns to include inadequate healthcare resources, reproductive health issues, heart disease, cancer and mental health issues.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

First lady urges officers’ wives to prioritise mental health

The First Lady, Sen. Oluremi Tinubu, has advised wives of officers and airmen of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) to prioritise their mental health while discharging their domestic responsibilities.

Tinubu gave the advice on Saturday at the Mental Health Awareness Walk and TalK in commemoration of NAF@60 celebration 2024, organised by the Nigerian Air Force Officers Wives Association (NAFOWA) in Abuja.

She was represented by the wife of the Minister of State for Defence, Hajiya Aisha Matawalle.

The first lady said that as wives of officers, there were unique demands placed on their shoulders between supporting their families, managing households and navigating the uncertainties of their husband’s careers.

‘It is easy to let our well-beings fall by the wayside. So, we have to be very deliberate about our health and mental well beings.

‘Therefore, the theme: ‘Step by step Embracing Mental Wellness Through Movement’, is timely.

‘Regular exercise does not just tone our muscles and boost energy levels. It is a t
ool for mental well being.

‘By prioritising our well being, we become not just healthier individuals but better wives, mothers and role models.

‘We can handle challenges of life with greater resilience and radiate poor positive energy that uplifts those around us.

‘Taking care of ourselves is not selfish, it is essential to our general well-being,’ she said.

Tinubu congratulated NAF on attaining 60 years of service and dedication to protecting the nation’s skies and ensuring national security.

She also described the wives of NAF personnel and NAFOWA as the true heroes behind the scenes, serving as pillars of strength for their families and championing the well being of their spouses and wider community.

The President of NAFOWA and Wife of Air Chief, Mrs Rakiya Abubakar, said the event was organised to raise awareness on mental health as well as embrace and promote conversation around the issue.

Abubakar said the theme was coined to buttress the pertinence of mental health and advocate for mental wellne
ss through fitness.

She said the event was to also commemorate the 60? Anniversary of NAF.

She added that the association deemed it necessary to remind them that mental health and wellness remained a critical part of living a healthy and fulfilling life.

She said that it impacts on their relationship, work and daily activities, ad ding that ‘it remains one of the most under-discussed and undervalued aspects of our lives.

‘Our walk and the talk we are about to have is an amazing opportunity to change the narratives and start important conversations about mental health.

‘We hope this event provides the avenue to de-stigmatise mental health concerns and to rally together in support of those who may be struggling with their mental health,’ she said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the highlights of the event include free medical test, health walk and talks by medical professionals.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

ANALYSIS: Stimulating advancement in science and technology through Nigeria Prize for Science

For the past 20 years, the Nigeria LNG (NLNG) Ltd. has piloted practical scientific approach to solving Nigeria’s problems through sponsorship of the Nigeria Prize for Science.

The prize celebrates excellence in scientific breakthroughs and honours scientists who help to find solutions to Nigeria’s problems.

The annual award is aimed at stimulating advancement and application of science and technology in Nigeria.

The prize is administered on behalf of NLNG by the Advisory Board for Science.

It is expected that the quest for the prestigious prize will improve application of science and technology in Nigeria, resolve issues that are germane to development of the country and help to improve standard of living.

Winners have been emerging in the annual competition, taking home whopping sum of $100,000 dollars, which can be won as an individual or a team.

Analysts have adjudged the competition transparent, consistent and successful so far.

Recently, a total of 153 entries was handed over to the Advisory Boar
d for Science in Lagos, after the April 30 deadline for submission of entries for the 2024 edition.

The award is open to scientists and innovators worldwide (Nigerians and non-Nigerians) involved in the application of science to proffer innovation and technologies for reducing the effects of climate change.

The theme is ‘ Innovations and Technologies for Reducing the Effects of Climate Change’.

According to Mr Andy Odey, the NLNG General Manager of External Relations and Sustainable Development, a total of 153 entries for the Nigeria Prize of Science 2024 was submitted.

He says the entries have been handed over to the Advisory Board for Science.

The 153 entries show 53 per cent increase over those of 2023.

‘This is the highest number of submissions in the life of the Nigeria Prize for Science.

‘It shows that scientists’ interests in the prize have doubled,’ he says.

Odey emphasises that any winning entry must have a solution to a problem in Nigeria.

‘No matter who or where the entry is coming from –
an individual or a team within or outside the country – the entry must have a solution,’ he says.

Odey believes that the theme of the 2024 edition underscores the critical importance of combating climate change, not only for Nigeria’s future, but also for the survival of humanity.

‘It will be of unquantifiable value as climate change arising from green gas emission remains a major setback to the development of humans,’ he says.

The Chairman of the Advisory Board for Science, Prof. Barth Nnaji, who received the entries for the 2024 competition, says they will be handed over to judges who have been carefully selected to do justice.

He also emphasises that the winning entry must demonstrate capacity to solve Nigeria’s problem.

‘The transparency in handling the prize has given scientists, worldwide, the zeal to submit their works,’ he says.

Nnaji says the winning entry is not expected to be a good research project.

‘A good research project? No. It is an innovation that has already demonstrated impact.

ientist(s) would have shown in the public, how the product or process or innovation has been able to work in the lives of people,’ he says.

Dr Nike Akande, Nigeria’s former Minister of Industries, is convinced that through the competition NLNG has been touching lives in various ways.

According to Akande, the winning prize relates with the business world through Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) to ensure that there is mass production for it to get to the areas it is needed most.

‘The 2023 winning prize, a small-sized incubator for babies, is aiding babies’ survival in hospitals, especially in teaching hospitals,’ she notes.

A Professor of Medical Engineering and Technology, Hippolite Amadi, emerged the winner of the 2023 edition with his scientific work on low-cost respiratory technologies that keep neonates alive.

The innovation comprises a non-invasive neonatal ventilator, an oxygen delivery blender
system, and an oxygen splitter system, all powered by solar energy.

In 2022, two scientific works won the prize.

Two most outstanding works on ‘Gains in Grain Yield of Released Maize (Zea Mays L.) Cultivars under Drought and Well-Watered Conditions’ by Muhydideen Oyekunle and Shehu Ado; and ‘Development of Process Plant for Plantain Flour’ by Sesan Ayodeji and Emmanuel Olatomilola won the $100,000 prize money.

The 2020 and 2021 cycles ended without winners.

In 2019, Prof. Mehong and Dr Matthew Aneke, emerged winners with their entry: ‘Carbon Capture, Carbon Utilisation, and Biomass Gasification and Energy Storage for Power Generation’.

In 2018, Peter Ngene emerged the winner with his entry: ‘Nanostructured Metal Hydrides for the Storage of Electrical Power from Renewable Energy Sources and for Explosion Prevention in High Voltage Power Transformers’.

According to Prof. Yusuf Abubakar, also a member of the Advisory Board of Nigeria Prize for Science, through the competition, NLNG is rewarding research ef
forts and innovativeness.

‘The bane of research institutes in Nigeria is to market their inventions.

‘NLNG is linking research with the industry.

‘It is left for government to fund research and innovations adequately,’ Abubakar, a former Executive Secretary of Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria, says.

He strongly believes that the focus of the 2024 competition on climate change is commendable.

Abubakar is a professor of Animal Breeding and Genetics and the Coordinator of Agricultural Group, R and D Standing Committee, Tertiary Education Trust Fund.

It is expected that in September, when the winning entry for the 2024 edition will be announced, Nigerians will be presented with an innovation that is clearly aiding in reducing effects of climate change.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Addressing Gender-Based Violence in Edo using legal instruments

Ms Augustina Effong (not real name), a 28-year-old single mother, faces the heart-wrenching reality of raising her six-year-old son alone. His father, Mr. Francis Osagie, has abandoned them, refusing to take responsibility for their child.

Efiong recounts how she became pregnant for Francis, who initially promised marriage but later reneged due to tribal differences.

‘His family members told him not to marry me because I am not from their tribe. I am still single but the father of my son is now married to another woman who has children for him.

‘I am a cleaner and earn N15, 000 monthly. This money is too small for me to take care of myself and my son.

‘My son doesn’t know his father because his father left me when I was pregnant. He is aware that I have a child for him, but he hasn’t come to see his son. I learnt that he lives in Benin with his family.

‘All I want is for the father of my son to take full responsibility of his upkeep, education, health and otherwise.

I will not allow my son to have any d
ealing with him in future if his father doesn’t take care of him now’, she explained.

Mrs. Loveth Osaro (not her real name), a 30-year-old health worker in Edo, shares a similar tale of suffering. Married to an Uber driver in 2021, Loveth endures constant beatings and neglect from her husband.

‘He does not provide for my upkeep and that of our child, he beats me anytime we have misunderstanding. He is a commercial driver and he is financially okay, but he doesn’t want to take care of his family.

Desperate for justice, Loveth learned about the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Law through a friend who connected her with a Non-Governmental Organisation in Edo.

The VAPP Law aims to punish perpetrators of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and provide justice for victims like Loveth.

Following the NGO’s intervention, her husband has stopped physically abusing her, but his family pressures him to evict her from their home.

Loveth is not certain about his intentions especially as he communicates with anoth
er woman.

In recent years, GBV has become a major social issue in Nigeria, with Edo being among the worst hit.

The UNDP’s GBV Factsheets: January 2020 -July 2022, recorded about 7, 349 incidents of GBV in Nigeria.

According to 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey statistics, 28.3 per cent of women aged 15-49 in Edo State have experienced intimate partner violence, compared to the national average of 23 per cent.

In response to this alarming trend, the Edo government passed the reviewed VAPP law in 2021 to eliminate violence in private and public life, provide maximum protection and effective remedies for victims and punish offenders of GBV.

The law is aimed at protecting both male and female, and vulnerable groups from all forms of violence, including domestic violence and sexual harassment.

It also criminalises harmful practices such as Female Genital Mutilation and imposes stiffer penalties on offenders.

Notwithstanding the good intention of the law, stakeholders, including civil society organ
izations, women’s rights groups, and legal practitioners, argue that awareness about the law is abysmally low hence it is not achieving the desired results.

According to Mrs Ufuoma Akpobi, Coordinator, Association Against Child Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (AACSGB), Edo chapter ‘the domestication of the VAPP law in Edo State will help to reduce the crisis in the state when people are aware of the law.

‘A lot of people are not aware of the VAPP law. During one of our sensitization programmes at Uselu community in Benin, we realise that there’s the need for awareness creation of the law because most persons we interacted with were not aware of such law,’ she said.

She said though there had some convictions that were tied to the VAPP law, a lot still needs to be done.

‘Justices have been served using the VAPP law, one is the case of the girl that pepper was inserted into her vagina, the perpetrators were convicted using the VAPP law.

There are also some rape cases that have been prosecuted using the law
‘, she said.

Mrs Nosazeme Lambert-Okao of Edo State Ministry of Justice said that sensitisation about the law would enable victims to seek redress through proper channels.

‘The male gender needs to know that rape and other forms of GBV are wrong. They should also know that there are laws put in place to punish violators and that justices must be served.

‘Let people know that there is a VAPP law that says that such violence are offences; we know that violence is both ways, however, the women are the ones that suffer more than the men.

‘People should know that the VAPP law is in place and that anyone who perpetrates violence against anyone will be prosecuted.

‘The truth is that a lot of offenders do not know that they are committing crimes, some know and they believe that they can get away with it. But right now in Edo, nobody gets away with GBV.

‘Everybody is against it and all hands is on deck to make sure that this menace is curbed; and the ministry tries to attend to such cases speedily and efficientl
y’, she said.

Mr Olumide Dosumu, Edo State Coordinator, National Human Rights Commission, concurs that more publicity should be given to the law.

‘Unfortunately, quite a number of people are not still aware of the law especially law enforcement officers, particularly the Police.

‘A situation where someone who is meant to enforce the law doesn’t know about the law, it becomes difficult. Once they have the law, the next step will be to train them on the implementation’, he said.

He also advocated community-based women sensitisation on the contents of the VAPP law, saying that ‘this will help to eliminate violence against women and girls.

‘Our advocacy should centre more hence forth on building the capacity of women and girls to become socio-economically strong to take decisive discussions that can lift them away from toxic environments and relationships.

‘Achieving gender equity and empowerment of women and girls is not only a key human rights issue but also one of the 17 Sustainable Goal enshrined on goa
l 5 and also mainstreamed throughout the whole Agenda 2030’

Similarly, Dr Bright Oniovokukor, Project Manager, Indomitable Youth Organisation, said although the domestication of the VAPP law was helping in the mitigation of GBV cases in Edo, there was a need for more awareness.

‘The VAPP law is currently in use in the courts and a couple of progress has been made in the utilization of the law.

‘We believe that with continuous awareness creation and use of the VAPP law, significant improvements would be made with respect to reducing the prevalence of GBV cases.

‘However, awareness about the VAPP law remains very low. During a recent programme, we organised in Egor Ward 6, the research aspect of it revealed that awareness on the VAPP law is still low”, he said.

According to Blessing Eromon, Programme/ Administration Officer, CLEEN Foundation, and NGO, sensitisation should be taken down to the family unit to allow for much impact in the larger society.

‘The adult man is raised as a child in the family; on
ce we start training the male child to respect the rights of the female child, he will do that when he becomes an adult”, she said.

She further said, apart from advocacies and sensitization, the society should be intentional about mitigating GBV.

‘We should focus on a set of persons, like children within the ages of 5 and 10 years; let’s start imbibing in them values because the value of our system is falling and it hurts a lot to see that the values that we upheld are now fading away.

‘We should bring back the values, teach our children, so that they grow with them for a better future.

‘As CSOs, we cannot reach everybody, so everyone should have the correct knowledge about GBV and share it with others especially at the community level.

‘A lot of persons need to be aware about GBV and the VAPP law and Gender Policy are good documents to handle GBV, so that people don’t talk laws into their hands and do jungle justice’, she said.

Mr Obi Oyenbuchi of National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in
Persons said: ‘It is better that we stop preventing GBV from happening by raising awareness about actions and laws that crimilisizes violence.

‘We should at all times try to protect the fundamental human rights of everyone; both male and female.

‘The message is that we should create more awareness to let people know about their rights. Most of the times, ignorance is a cause of SGBV.

‘A child is being abused but the parents don’t know that it is their right to report the perpetrator for justice to be served.

‘They think t it is wrong for them to report and it is also exposing the child to stigma’, he said.

Gender rights activists say the VAPP law is a step in the right direction towards tackling GBV in Edo.

It is therefore important that all stakeholders work together to ensure that awareness about the law as well as its implementation is created in a manner that will facilitate the achievement of its aims and objectives.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

NSCDC hits illegal bunkering site, recovers 100,000 litres of oil

The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), has dismantled an illegal refinery with more than 100,000 liters of crude oil in Adobi settlement, Etche Local Government Area in Rivers.

A statement by NSCDC spokesperson Babawale Afolabi on Saturday in Abuja, indicated that the site was uncovered by the Commandant-General’s Special Intelligence Squad (CGsSIS).

It quoted the Commander of the special squad, Mr Dandaura Appolos, as attributing the success of the operation to credible intelligence reports.

Apollos further said that the intelligence had indicated that some suspects had vandalised a multinational company’s well head.

‘We value and protect our informants and the information received is always treated with caution, confidentiality and prompt alertness,’ Apollos said, while thanking the informants.

He also explained that on getting to the site, it was discovered that the suspects had connected galvanised metal pipes with large hoses and had syphoned crude oil for local processing.

‘As soon
as we arrived the scene, the suspects took to their heels but we were able to arrest one 32 years old Godspower Oyibo, male, from Delta.

‘He is currently assisting us with further investigation and shall be charged to court after interrogation.

‘Exhibits impounded from the site include one yellow robin EY 20 pumping machine, galvanised metal pipes, long large hoses, already vandalised well heads, and stolen crude worth 100,000 litres stored in reservoirs.

‘Others are calibrated surface tanks, processed AGO in cooking pots and metal buckets,’ he said.

Meanwhile, the corps’ spokesperson has assured the public that the NSCDC would sustain its war against vandalism and crude oil theft across the nation.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

12,539 teachers write 2024 professional qualifying exams

No fewer than 12,539 teachers nationwide sat for the May diet of the Professional Qualifying Examination (PQE) which began on Thursday and ended on Saturday.

The qualification examination is conducted by the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) to test the professional competence of teachers.

Speaking with newsmen in Abuja on Saturday, Director, Certification and Licensing at the TRCN, Dr Jacinta Ezeahurukwe, said the examination ensured that qualified teachers remained in the classroom across the country.

Ezeahurukwe said the impact of the exercise had widely been felt both nationally and internationally.

She said ‘no PQE, no staying in the classroom’ was enforced in 2019 with deadlines and this resulted in having many teachers coming out to obtain their PQE.

‘Everybody knows that the teaching profession has gotten to a level that is highly recognised internationally and nationally.

‘And everybody knows that you cannot just walk into a class now and say you are a teacher, you must be registe
red and licensed by TRCN for you to practice.

‘Since 2014, TRCN has started this PQE and it has come to stay. Even internationally, they have recognised it and they have looked at the processes of examination,’ Ezeahurukwe said.

She said people have found it very credible that the UK has even granted Nigeria one of those countries in Africa that they allow their teachers to apply for Qualifying Teachers Status.

The Director explained that the qualifying examination established foundational knowledge that a teacher must possess and exhibit as contained in professional teaching standards.

She said for the May diet examination, Benue state came top with 1,416 as the highest number of registered candidates followed by Osun state with 1,410 registration.

Ezeahurukwe said that Cross River State came last with 59 persons followed by Ebonyi State with 69.

She said that Nigerians are now aware of the importance of the qualifying exams saying that hardly is there any school in any state that recruit teachers that
does not have the TRCN certification and license.

According to Ezeahurukwe, TRCN is making sure every state and every organisation recruiting teachers from the primary to tertiary institutions must have a qualified teacher.

‘We have introduced this to our graduating education students and are also caught at the point graduation.

‘It is an induction at the point of graduation where education students in Colleges of Education, faculties and institute of education, after their final exams apply for the TRCN PQE.

‘The exams is conducted for them in schools, so majority of our graduating students registered at the point of graduation so they are not outside to battle with those who graduated earlier,’ she said.

One of the teachers, Agnes Agbo from Veritas University, said she was prompted to take part in the examination to continue in the teaching profession, as well as have the opportunity to travel if the need arise.

Agbo said the examination was successful as the hitch experienced earlier was quickly rect
ified by the monitoring team.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

ECOWAS bloc emerging tourist destination -Stakeholders

Anthony Elumelu, ECOWAS acting Director, Private Sector Investment, communicated this in an interview with newsmen after a strategic meeting between ECOWAS officials and private sector tourism stakeholders on Saturday, in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the high level dialogue culminated in the signing of agreements to implement a comprehensive regional tourism framework and a communique to that effect.

Elumelu said with the consensus reached between both sides, they had created an enabling environment for member states to implement a robust tourism confederation across West Africa, which would attract tourists globally.

‘It is very important for you to know that from the ECOWAS perspective, I mean the commission, our job is to create an enabling environment for member states to churn out legal instruments, adopt them and also implement.

‘There are assignments for the ECOWAS Commission; there are also assignments for member states; they need to take ownership, they need to sensitise t
hrough advocacy, capacity building and also funding by the private sector, and on the side of the government, tax moratorium, power supply.

‘These are all the things that we are here to talk about; and I think we have achieved a level of consensus; we have an association now that will drive this and also key into what they call ECOWAS Business Council; so with these, I think we are moving forward as a tourist destination.

‘Tourism is not an internal matter; you need global attraction to have ECOWAS as a tourist destination country; so these are the things and I am positive that in the next few years we will be talking about a robust regional tourism sector,’ he said.

Elumelu described ECOWAS as a ‘partial severance of sovereignty into a collective basket,’ stressing that most member states were dependent on tourism, which is capital intensive and high income earner.

According to him, the beauty of it is the enabling text-even the flagship protocol, which also creates room for tourism to thrive- the protoc
ol of free movement of persons, which also gives you the right to stay, enter, stay and establish businesses.

He said it was worthy of note that the bloc had signed into the continental free trade.

‘Tourism is a key element in terms of that because it is one of the highest earners.

‘I think, like I just mentioned, if we implement the text that we have signed, and with this association, there will be coherence; let us be positive,’ he said.

Also speaking, ECOWAS Programme Officer for Tourism, Stella Drabo, said that security was key for tourism to thrive, stressing that people moved a lot when they felt safe and secure.

She said that West Africa’s security challenges occasioned by terrorism and violent extremism was not a hindrance to tourism because in many parts of the world, where tourism was thriving, they were experiencing worse security issues.

‘You know, if we go through the report that has been published by the World Tourism Organisation about tourism and security all over the world, they made a
very, very detailed research; we are safe to move and travel; we are visiting each other.

‘For sure, we have to continue improving on the security level; in terms of infrastructure as well, having good roads to allow me to drive my family car from Lagos to Cotonou, from Cotonou to Niamey, from Niamey to Ouagadougou, from Ouagadougou to Cote D’Ivoire and to Monrovia, Liberia.

‘And today it is something we are very proud of as ECOWAS Commission, because we can now say ECOWAS is now a tourist destination because we have the private sector; we have the regional body, ECOWAS, with our private sector being the ones operating on ground.

‘We have everything in place; so, now the train is complete; we will now double and even triple the horsepower to go further and further,’ Drabo said.

President, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Nkereuwem Onung, also expressed belief that ECOWAS was emerging as a tourist haven with the tourism private sector agreeing to work with the Commission to implement r
egional tourism policies.

He said that people would henceforth be able to have multi destinations in terms of tourism with ECOWAS increasingly becoming a tourist haven.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

FEMinWASH strengthens partnership for improved water, sanitation delivery in Nigeria

The Network of Female Professionals in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (FEMinWASH) has reaffirmed its commitment to enhancing collaboration with stakeholders to improve access to potable water and sanitation services in Nigeria.

This commitment was emphasised by FEMinWASH President, Dr Bolu Onabolu, during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Environmental Health Council of Nigeria (EHCON) in Abuja on Friday.

Onabolu noted that the partnership aims to build bridges and foster collaboration to advance sanitation and drinking water quality, while supporting the government’s water supply initiatives.

She described the MoU as an action-oriented agreement designed to transform the landscape of water and sanitation in Nigeria.

Onabolu also noted that the EHCON Registrar has mandated all female Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) to join FEMinWASH, with membership becoming a condition for license renewal.

This directive underscores the pivotal role of both male and female EHOs at the local
government level in advancing sanitation efforts in Nigeria.

Addressing the issue of period poverty, Onabolu pointed out ongoing efforts to mitigate its negative impact on girls’ education.

She mentioned that FEMinWASH members are actively engaged in raising awareness and producing reusable sanitary pads to support women in need.

She emphasised that period poverty leads to significant educational disruptions for girls, which in turn affects their families and the country’s GDP.

‘A lot of work is ongoing in terms of menstrual hygiene management and addressing period poverty.

‘Studies show that girls who lack access to water and sanitation in schools miss days of education, which has immediate and long-term effects on their future and our economy.

‘This partnership with EHCON is a step towards changing the face of water and sanitation in Nigeria.’

Dr Yakubu Baba, Registrar and CEO of EHCON, hailed the collaboration as a new dawn for the health sector and a significant step towards changing the WASH narra
tive in Nigeria.

He stressed the importance of enforcement and inspection mechanisms to reduce disease prevalence in communities.

Baba stated, ‘We will emphasise accessible toilet availability in our enforcement and inspection efforts. Ensuring access to water and sanitation can displace up to 75 per cent of the diseases ravaging our communities.’

According to him, the partnership between FEMinWASH and EHCON is set to drive substantial improvements in water and sanitation services across Nigeria, benefiting communities and enhancing public health.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Upcycling waste spurs art, farming among Lagos students

Nehemiah Jacob approaches waste-filled areas with a new perspective since he came in contact with the Foundation for a Better Environment (FABE). The final year student of Aguda Senior Grammar School, Surulere, Lagos says he now thinks ‘of ways to transform waste into wealth.’

But this was not always the case.

Nigeria produces the largest amount of solid waste in Africa and approximately 70 per cent of it are plastics. In general, it is estimated to be around 32 million tonnes annually with only about 20 to 30 per cent being collected and managed properly.

Lagos State alone generates about 14,000 tonnes of waste per day with about 20 per cent of it being plastics. Only about 70 per cent isbeing disposed of properly while the rest ends up in illegal dumpsites, streets, canals, drains and waterways, as reported by the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA). The repercussions include environmental pollution, degradation and other climate change issues.

This became a burden for Mrs Temitope Okunnu, an
environmental sustainability advocate, who believes that behavioural, attitudinal and mind-set change is a crucial first step in building environmentally conscious citizens. Motivated by the desire to be a catalyst for change, she set out on a mission to nurture an eco-conscious generation across Africa. This led to the creation of Foundation for a Better Environment (FABE International) in 2016, which kicked off with a focus on schools.

‘Our vision is very simple – to create an eco-conscious generation across Africa and we are focused on creating that attitudinal, behavioural and mind-set change,’ she says.


At the heart of Okunnu’s Eco School Programme are the five Rs, which are: refusing, reducing, reusing or upcycling, rotting or compost and recycling.

‘We use all the waste around the school and home to teach the teachers and students upcycling, recycling, composting and sustainability. And this is well embedded in the school curriculum,’ she says.

‘So we teach the students how to make art,
such as frames, decorative materials, crafts such as ottoman seats, lamps, and upcycled eco-garden or zero-waste garden from waste.’

The upcycled garden is made from different kinds of waste which are converted to functional products of high environmental and economic value. From there, PET bottles and tyres are transformed into planters while bamboo and tyres are also used for fencing and barricades. Kitchen wastes or rot are used as organic fertilisers and manure in the garden.

Making art

When FABE introduced its programme in Jacob’s school, he eagerly became part of the recycling team with a focus at making ottomans.

They started by picking and gathering plastics and other recyclable materials with the aim of turning them into something valuable. ‘The waste we cannot recycle, we use them as manure for our garden,’ he explains.

Recently, Jacob crafted ottomans from plastics and cake boards gathered from his mother’s catering supplies. Other waste products he uses are cartons, fabrics, and foam. So far
he has sold five artworks.

‘Sixteen inches ottoman is from seven-thousand to eight-thousand naira while fourteen inches is from five-thousand to six-thousand naira per piece,’ he explains, adding that this has empowered him and lessened his parents’ financial burden.

Other students, like Gloria Ndum and Fareedat Yahaya, both in their third year at Victoria Island Junior Secondary School, planted their first batch of vegetables in April 2024.

They reflected on how the experience has broadened their understanding on how waste materials such as old tyres, plastics, and sacks could be repurposed to cultivate crops at home.

Education and advocacy

The foundation hopes to reach 1,000 schools by 2030.

‘We have reached over 200 public and private schools in Lagos, Ogun, and Akwa Ibom states,’ Okunnu says.

In November 2023, during the unveiling of the October 2023 Cadre Harmonisé analysis on food insecurity, it was revealed that in 2024, Nigeria is expected to see about 26.5 million people grappling with high le
vels of food insecurity. Several factors have been identified as contributing to the problem. These include poverty, climate change, conflict, population growth, inadequate policy implementation, ineffective agricultural methods, post-harvest losses, and insufficient funding allocated to agriculture, among other issues.

‘With waste materials such as old tyres, sacks, plastics, paint buckets; you can grow your own food like yam, vegetables, root crops etcetera. So everyone should have this kind of skill.’

The eco-garden also brings about various learning outcomes for the students, she points out. Agriculture can be taught with practical examples in the garden. ‘Because we realised that most schools are just teaching agriculture in the classrooms, meanwhile it should be more of an outdoor process.

‘So we see this as a learning laboratory and instructional material for agriculture, geography for science students to learn about nature, art, biodiversity and environment. With this, they are able to understand c
oncepts in the classroom, carry over the knowledge to their homes and communities. That way, the knowledge is spreading, there’s behavioural change and sustainability.’

The long journey home

Mrs Asanya Ekpenyong, a biology teacher at Aguda Senior Grammar School, Surulere had struggled to involve students in environmental conservation efforts before FABE’s intervention. Now an Eco-Coordinator of Eco Schools Project, she says the comprehensive education on recycling, composting, upcycling, gardening and organic farming has empowered students to become stewards of the environment.

The provision of recycle bins by FABE has facilitated proper waste disposal, significantly enhancing the cleanliness of the school environment. This, she explains, has encouraged them to sort their waste from source.

‘The establishment of an eco-garden on our premises has contributed positively to our environment, providing a space for cultivating crops and vegetables,’ Ekpenyong says.

‘We are getting organic food from our farm wi
th no artificial additives or preservatives. All the manure is from the waste we generate in the school. With the prices of food items in the market, we are able to use the little we grow on the farm for ourselves in our homes.

‘Sometimes, we sell the farm produce, especially the vegetables, at a reduced price while other times, we share with the students and teachers for them to use at home.’

At home, Ekpenyong manages her own farm using the techniques she has learned. In addition to this, she makes ottoman seats with plastics for sale.

‘Past and present students have embraced these practices beyond the school. So this initiative by FABE has been of great impact to our lives,’ she adds.

But one challenge she encounters is in maintaining the garden. Instances of vandalism and theft pose a threat to the eco-garden’s security. Then there is the waterlogged nature of the school compound and inadequate irrigation during vacations which present obstacles to crop cultivation.

Chidimma Nwobodo, a chemistry teac
her who is also an Eco-Coordinator at Olomu Community Senior Secondary School, Ajah, shares the same enthusiasm as Ekpenyong. She recalled how they often waited anxiously for waste collection trucks, sometimes in vain for an entire term.

‘With our new approach, where every item, from PET bottles to eggshells, sachet water nylons, and cartons holds value, waste accumulation has significantly reduced,’ Nwobodo says. This does not only minimise waste but also reduces the school’s expenditure on waste disposal while simultaneously generating wealth for the institution.

‘Recently we harvested our vegetables from our eco-garden and everyone in the school was excited to patronise us. We have a treasury where the money is kept and registered for accountability.

‘Our recycling efforts are proving to be financially rewarding, as students channel their creativity into crafting various decorations using materials like plastics, cotton bud sticks, cartons, and bottle caps,’ Nwobodo adds.

Some parents misunderstand the

The foundation sometimes must contend with government bureaucracy and students’ parents.

Okunnu points out that some think their children are being turned into scavengers. ‘Also some of the teachers are not able to understand how to relate what we’re teaching them to their [students] studies. We have been advocating for environmental education to be included in the curriculum in schools. In Lagos state, it has started and there are recycling clubs supported by the state government.

‘Another challenge is bad soil for the garden. Loamy soil is good for planting and what we have mainly in Lagos is sandy and clay soil which is not good for planting, so sometimes we travel as far as Ijebu-Ode to buy soil.’

But this challenge came with a discovery.

When they realised that there was a lot of money expended in buying soil, the foundation found solutions to amend the soil. ‘So whatever bad soil we have, we can amend it and it will still produce the same results as a loamy soil,’ she says.

‘We also have g
overnment bureaucracy to deal with. Initially we were in private schools because we had a hard time getting into public schools. But it is a lot easier now and we’re into both public and private schools.

Ensuring Continuity

Designated teachers, called Eco Coordinators, and students, referred to as Eco Ambassadors, play pivotal roles in driving these environmental initiatives.

Annually, outstanding schools are recognised with the Eco School of the Year Award, honouring those who excel in all recycling, upcycling and gardening activities. Teachers and students who exhibit exceptional enthusiasm for the programme are also recognised.

‘Our Eco Ambassadors serve as mentors, imparting their knowledge to fellow students, thus nurturing future leaders in the environmental sustainability space,’ Okunnu explains, adding that the project has helped to reduce the amount of pollution around schools.

Learning from them, carpenters around are incorporating PET bottles into their carpentry work.

Parents too have starte
d growing their organic food with no chemicals added. ‘They now have healthy eating habits, there’s a lot of greenery and conservation,’ she says.

Partnerships with organisations like the Aspire Coronation Trust Foundation, Coca-Cola Foundation, Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance and FundQuest continue to strengthen FABE’s efforts. Some of them render support in various activities run by the foundation. Others assist in terms of recycling or during the annual graduation and award ceremonies.

‘The Eco schools programme is gaining more recognition across schools in Lagos State. However, we don’t have enough finances to reach as many schools as we would want to, so we are open to more financial support and grants.’ (NAN)

**This story is with the support and collaboration of the Solutions Journalism Network and the Nigerian Health Watch.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria