N1b Expenditure On COVID-19: Stop Using Pandemic For Fund Siphoning, PDP Tells Obaseki
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Edo State chapter, has cautioned the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led state government in the state to stop using the deadly COVID-19 pandemic as gateway for corrupt profiteering and fleecing of the state treasury.
The PDP was reacting to a broadcast by the state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki on Sunday, April 19, that the state government has so far spent over N1b in the fight against COVID-19 in the state, and has consequently reached out to 50,000 vulnerable families.
Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, in a statement said the governor’s broadcast was not just disappointing, curious, scandalous but failed to address pressing economic issues in the state.
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Nehikhare described as painful Obaseki’s inability to address the immediate needs of SMEs and its employees or provide a trajectory that will take care of their future as the month of April draws to an end.
He said, “The reality is that there are allegations of diversion of palliatives to vulnerable citizens which is frustrating the commitment by Edolites and other well-meaning groups in the overall effort to combat the spread of the scourge in our state.
“We are saddened that Governor Obaseki again failed to show leadership and displayed total lack of touch with reality as he failed to address the issue of palliatives diversion.
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“Business owners are going to ponder how they will meet their wage bill demand when they haven’t done any business but must make their utility payments; electricity, telephone and rent! There was no mention of plans to subsidize, assist or intervene one way or the other.”
The Publicity Secretary who described the administration as corrupt individuals, treasury looters, said Edo people reject the claim figure by Obaseki.
“Edo PDP rejects the attempt by rogues in government circles to use the Covid-19 pandemic to fleece our treasury.
“This is especially as the APC administration is reputed to be a haven of corrupt individuals, treasury looters, certificate forgers and election riggers.
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“We reject the humongous figures already being bandied to have been spent”, Nehikhare noted.
ILO, FG Release Survey On Evidence-based Data On Child Labour
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Federal Government say they are set to release survey on evidence-based data on child labour and forced labour in the country.
Ms Vanessa Phala, the ILO Country Director for Nigeria and Ghana said this at the National Child Labour and Forced Labour Survey Validation workshop in Abuja on Monday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the workshop was organised by the ILO in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Employment, the ACCEL Africa Project, funded by the Netherlands Government and the National Bureau of Statistics.
According to Phala, after 22 years, Nigeria will eventually be able to comprehensively state its situation of child labour.
“For the very first time in Nigeria, we will be having data on the prevalence of forced labour, ‘’she said.
She said the last global report on child labour released by ILO and UNICEF, indicated that the number of children in child labour has risen to 160 million worldwide.
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The country director noted that there was an increase of 8.4 million children compared with the last report with millions more at risk due to the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic.
“In Nigeria, you will agree with me that eradicating child labour and forced labour requires the development of monitoring infrastructure to determine and measure its magnitude, distribution, dimensions and characteristics at the national and sub-national levels.
“For this reason, the ILO through its ACCEL Africa and Map 16 projects, supported the Government to conduct the National Child labour survey.
“The National Bureau of statistics with technical support from the ILO and participation of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment have gone to the field and it’s time to see the figures,’’ she said.
Phala noted that for over the past 20 years, the ILO continued its collaboration with Nigeria, through the Ministry of Labour and Employment and other ministries, agencies and departments to eliminate child labour and protect children within the legal working age.
According to her, so many children in Nigeria are trapped in slavery, forced labour and trafficking, they are forced to participate in community conflicts; used for prostitution, pornography or in illicit activities, exploited domestic workers, among others.
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“We must act urgently to protect the rights of our dear children and restore their childhood as the detail of this survey is of concern to all stakeholders.
“That is be it government, employers. workers, civil society organisation, academia, international organisations, donors. UN Agencies, parents, individuals, including the children themselves.
“We should start envisioning that change we intend to see in the next two years or seven years before the end date of the SDGs,’’ she said.
She charged all to contribute their quota to ensure that the evidence-based data on child labour and forced labour inform policy review, programming and implementation of various interventions.
Ms Daju, Kachollom, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment commended stakeholders for the conduct of the survey and their relentless efforts and commitment in the advocacy for the betterment of the Nigerian child, and the elimination of child labour.
“In Nigeria, child labour has become a scourge. Several children find themselves on the streets, forced to make a living with others employed in industrial complexes and hazardous environments.
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“This is attributable to various factors such as poverty, ignorance, unemployment, absence of social security for the vulnerable, misinterpretation of cultural and religious beliefs and weak institutional framework.
“Statistics reveal that there are no fewer than 15 million child workers in Nigeria; this is according to the ILO, with the UN warning that the absence of mitigating strategies could see an exponential increase in the number of children engaged in child labour.
“As a country, however, we take pride in stating that giant strides have been made in dealing with this menace.
“Most notably the adoption and ratification of ILO Conventions 138 and 182 on Minimum Age and Worst forms of Child Labour respectively; the passage of the Child Rights Act into law to domesticate the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by 35 state governments and the FCT,’’ she said.
She noted the review and the validation of the National Policy on Child Labour and the National Action Plan on the Elimination of Child Labour, Prohibition and Elimination of Forced Labour, Modern Slavery, and Human Trafficking in workplaces, amongst other achievements.
She, therefore, urged all to remain steadfast in the fight to eliminate child labour and to achieve the Alliance 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and eliminating Child Labour in all its forms by the year 2025.
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Mrs Nike Ajala, the Abuja Office Liasion Officer, Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA) said NECA would continue to played a critical role in the fight for the elimination of the worst forms of child labouring the country.
Ajala said that NECA had been engaging in tripartite discussions on the issue of child labour, providing inputs into legislation and encouraging the implementation of ILO child labour conventions’ principles at national, state and enterprise levels.
“Going forward, we will continue to seek deeper collaboration with other social partners in Nigeria.
“We will also continue advocating to our employers to improve their Corporate Social Responsibility.
“This is especially to ensure that children remain in school and encouraging companies to create policies to ensure that their suppliers operate responsible businesses without child labour among others.”
Meningitis, Cholera Kill 88, Experts Call For Action
A total of 922 cholera cases have so far been recorded in Nigeria and 32 of them succumbed to the disease in 2023.
This is according to the latest situation report obtained from the World Health Organisation.
The Case Fatality Rate is at 3.5 per cent as of March 5, 2023.
The WHO noted that the data include the suspected positive rapid diagnostic tests and laboratory-confirmed cholera cases.
It said the case and death numbers presented are unreliable due to differences in reporting systems and underreporting.
Cholera is an acute diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with Vibrio cholerae bacteria. People can get sick when they swallow food or water contaminated with cholera bacteria. The infection is often mild or without symptoms, but can sometimes be severe and life-threatening.
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As of March 20, 2023, at least 24 countries continue to report cholera cases. With reference to historical transmission patterns and seasonality, large parts of the world are currently in low or interepidemic transmission periods, therefore this number could increase in the months to come.
The mortality associated with the outbreaks is of particular concern as many countries reported higher case-fatality ratios than in previous years.
Also, the situation report obtained from the website of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention showed that there were 157 confirmed cases of meningitis in the country from October 2022 till March 5, 2023.
A total of 628 suspected cases of meningitis, including 52 deaths, have been reported from 21 states and 66 Local Government Areas in the country.
Meanwhile, the CFR stands at 8.3 per cent.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, a thin layer of the connective tissue that covers the brain and the spinal cord. The common signs and symptoms are fever, headache, nausea and vomiting, neck stiffness, and altered consciousness level.
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The report read in part, “Age group 5 -14 years was the most affected age group. Males were 62 per cent, females were 38 per cent.
“Ninety-One per cent of all cumulative cases were from four states – Jigawa (509 cases), Bauchi (23 cases), Zamfara (22 cases), and Oyo (14 cases).
“Ten LGAs across five states, Jigawa (7), Bauchi (1), Oyo (1), Plateau (1) and Zamfara (1), reported more than five cases each this CSM seasons 2022/2023.”
A medical laboratory scientist at the Department of Microbiology, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Anambra State, Obinna Chukwudi expressed worry over the country’s poor preparedness in tackling disease outbreaks.
“The Cholera and Meningitis outbreaks in recent times give a clear picture of the degree of our preparedness and containment strategies for more dangerous emergency disease outbreaks in the future.
“The government on the other hand is not left behind because judging from the aetiology of these diseases, you will notice that it is more of the socio-economic levels of the people which put them at a higher risk of getting infected. I advise that the government with advice from experts in the health system should intensify its approaches to implementing more policies that would better the health and well-being of the people.
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“A multifaceted approach including public policy, surveillance, water purification and hygiene, community sensitisation, and the use of vaccines is vital to prevent, control, and reduce cholera and meningitis menace in the affected states,” he said.
Also, the Ondo State Epidemiologist, Dr. Stephen Fagbemi said there is a need for joint efforts between the government and the people to fight diseases.
“The government and the people need to work together. There is a need for increased awareness and people need to report to the hospitals once they notice the symptoms.”
Six Health Benefits Of Tiger Nuts
Despite its name, the tiger nut is not a nut, but a tuber. The sweet, almond-like flavor tuber crop has gained popularity as a health food.
Known as Ofio in Yoruba, Aki Hausa and Imumu in Igbo, and Aya in Hausa), tiger nuts may be eaten either raw or cooked. It can be extracted as milk and used as an alternative for those who do not like dairy milk; it can also be used for baking.
Here are the benefits of Tiger nuts:
1. It protects against aging: Tiger nuts are a rich source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals, unstable molecules that the body produces as a reaction to environmental and other pressures, according to an online health portal, Healthline.
2. It improves digestion: Tiger nuts are a good source of fibre. Dietary fibre aids digestion by increasing the frequency of stools and relieving constipation.
3. It may reduce blood sugar levels: Tiger nuts may help keep your blood sugar levels in check. Healthline notes that animal studies show that tiger nut extract may help reduce blood sugar levels due to the high fiber content of the tubers, which may slow down the absorption of sugar in the gut.
4. It suppresses appetite: A journal published in the international journal for innovative research in the multidisciplinary field showed that tiger nuts are also said to act as a mild appetite suppressant. This helps keep us feeling fuller for longer and also reduces the number of calories we absorb from the food.
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5. It may boost your immune system, fight infections: Studies have shown that tiger nut extracts are effective against E. coli, Staphylococcus, and Salmonella bacteria. The extracts might also be effective at fighting antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. However, more studies are needed to draw a strong conclusion.
6. It boosts sex drive: Tiger nuts have been proven to improve sperm count and motility. Medical director and consultant urologist at the Ogah Hospital and Urology Centre, Fugar, Edo State, Dr Gabriel Ogah, said tiger nuts can boost sex drive and libido in individuals.
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