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The Sreet Children of Coal City

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The Sreet Children of Coal City

By Emmanuel Onwubiko

If there is ever any way of reading the pulse of the nation and determine the happiness or otherwise of the greatest percentage of the citizenry, then the streets are the most accurate barometer.  

The believers in the Utilitarian theory will say that a society is happy and prosperous when the greatest happiness of the greatest number of Citizens in a given society has been seamlessly attained. 

So from the streets you can tell how a given society is organised and how the governance Standards are engineered and effectively implemented.  

I’m a firm believer in the sociology of poverty of the streets that is engineered and choreographed by the unequal redistribution of resources and the wealth of nation. Take for example the issue of the public Universities that went on strike for a year and the Federal Government and the members of the academic union do not care whatever happens to the educational wellbeing of the students. The government officials beginning from the local levels up until the central government, all have their kids abroad in some of the best schools.  President Muhammadu Buhari has trained all his children in different universities in the United Kingdom and the Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo has also done the same. Children of all the governors are either in Europe, Canada or the USA schooling at public costs but the children of the poor who are in public Universities that are grossly ill equipped have stayed home for a year because the teachers and the government are arguing over whether the teachers should be paid through a centralised data system but the teachers rejected such arrangements.  They are also quarrying over wages and salaries. They are not bothered that science labs in these Universities are empty. They do not care if the computer faculties do not have computers and they are not concerned with the falling standards of study and living hostels of these children of the masses. By the way, there are over 100 million absolutely poor Nigerians and the chasm between the rich and the poor widens criminally rapidly by the day. Take another example of health tourism by government officials who have stolen all the money meant to build public healthcare Center’s for the masses but these politicians travel abroad to take care of their own health challenges thereby allowing hundreds of thousands of poor Nigerians to die from diseases that are ordinarily treatable.  Such is what I call the effect of criminal failure to equitably redistribute the wealth of the nation amongst the populations. The lack of equity is the reason for the high numbers of street children in the South East as well as other parts of the Country. 

An abstract  from a research work published in the INTERNATIONAL journal of current research by Dr. Shoiab Ahmad Bhat, Dr. MD. Arshad and Mudasir Quadir says the following about the phenomenon of street children: “A street child is any girl or boy for whom the street has become his or her habitual abode or a source of livelihood, and who worked on the street and went home to their families at night. The scenario of street children is considered to be the most important problem facing both developed and developing societies. Street children constitute a snubbed group as they are the product of economic growth, war, poverty, loss of traditional values, domestic violence, physical and mental abuse. Every street child has a reason for being on the streets, and the present study was an endeavour to analyse the reasons or causes of a child on the streets. The research work was an exertion to highlight the socio-economic problems faced by the street children in Jammu and Kashmir with special reference to Srinagar district. Street children are the most perceptible fragment of our society, deprived with vital services like education and health care, and the most difficult to protect. They become the victim of all forms of exploitation and abuse, and their daily lives are likely to be very different from the idyllic childhood. The findings of the study divulge that there are many reasons for children to decide to leave their homes: poverty, disagreement at home, disintegration in family, unable to pay school fee and to find jobs.”

The scientific research aforementioned is replicated in the streets of Enugu as well as Owerri and Aba whereby hundreds of thousands of children, too young to even be allowed out of an organised home but these less privileged children of Igbo extraction are all over the streets of these major city centres I have just mentioned. That of Enugu which is the former regional capitalof the South East of Nigeria is pathetic going by the tender ages of the Children you would normally see on the streets roaming around the bust motor ways at the risks of being knocked down by rough drivers and these Children are obviously sexually abused, exploited, and physically and mentally harassed, intimidated and violated by all kinds of depraved adults. I’m particularly shocked to find out that Igbo children are being allowed by their Parents and the society to fend for themselves on the streets as if the South East of Nigeria has return to the state of nature which according to the British Philosopher Thomas Hobbes is brutish, uninteresting, callous, and short. The social factors mentioned by those researchers above are indeed the correct sociological causes of the menace of street children in Igbo speaking states. This is a clear sign that the society is broken down and the cultural and traditional values the people usually hold so dear such as the cultural values of hard work and social solidarity of looking out for each other, the values of hospitality, charity and other family values that the Igbo cosmology promotes, have been allowed to melt away and give way to consumerism, pursuit for cash by all means, the winner takes all tendencies, the survival of the fittest, the might is right tendency and there is a speedy decline for the spirit of entrepreneurship and importantly the traditional value system of being our brother’s keeper or the virtue of ONYE AGHANA NWANNEYA( let nobody forget his brother). 

I see danger lurking in our eyes in the South East of Nigeria if this social menace that threatens the core values of the Igbo society is not confronted and dealt with as much as possible using all institutional, cultural, social, religious and all kinds of constructive interventions,  then in no distant time, these children we are watching as they languish in poverty of the streets whilst we take care of our own Children will come back to haunt us because if the poor are hungry and can not sleep, the rich will inevitably not sleep because the poor people are awake. I think it is just right that the political class and all stakeholders in the organised civil society community in Nigeria come together to begin to implement solutions to the increasing emergence and presence of large numbers of street children in the major urban centres of South East of Nigeria. The Sociocultural organisations and religious establishments such as the Catholic Church, the Anglican communion and the Pentecostal churches in the South East of Nigeria must wake up and resolve the problem of street Children that is going to pose a big challenge to everyone of us in another two decades if we don’t take these Children off the streets by extending the dividends of democracy in real life to reach them and get them to become economically empowered to such a way that they need not come out on the streets to beg to eat. The political leadership of the South East of Nigeria are indeed gambling with the security of the South East by not doing anything to take away the social burdens of those children who today live on the streets and who will grow up to become huge social threats to the community that marginalised and neglected them now. 

What you see on the streets of the South East of Nigeria validates the research that shows that Nigeria is the worst place on Earth to be born. 

The following are the five worst places for a person to be born. Determining studies focused on criteria such as economics, crime rates, and health standards.

On Nigeria which is the worst of the first five worst places to live on Earth, the WRITERS of the report identified as www.borgenproject.org says that the country of Nigeria, located in West Africa, is by far the most populated country on the continent of Africa, and is considered the worst country in the world in which to be born. Accordingly, the birth rate in Nigeria is significantly higher than the death rate. (In 2006, the WHO estimated that 42 percent of the population was between the ages of 0-14 and 54 percent was between the ages of 15-65.) Life expectancy is about 47 years old. Nigeria is the only country in Africa to have not completely eradicated polio, as well.

Kenya came second just as the report says that Kenya is a country located in East Africa, and is the second worst place in the world to be born. In 2011, the WHO estimated that a mere 42 percent of births were attended by a qualified health specialist, and that there are approximately 44 deaths per every 1,000 infants born. Life expectancy is at the low number of 55 years. In 2009, the WHO also estimated that 6.3 percent of Kenya’s entire adult population was living with HIV/AIDS. Kenya was followed by Ukraine reported as being an Eastern European country bordering Russia. This independent territory is the third worst place in the world to be born. In 2008, the UN estimated that the country’s growth rate was only 5 percent, and that if conditions did not improve, the population could fall by 10 million by the year 2025. Ukraine also faces issues such as high death rates, low birth rates, and illnesses such as HIV/AIDS and high blood pressure. Bangladesh came second to the last out of the five worst places to be born on Earth just as the reporter says that the country of Bangladesh is a republic located in South Asia and is the fourth worst place to be born in modern times. Malnutrition, among other health issues, has long plagued Bangladesh. In fact, the World Bank has ranked Bangladesh as the number one area in the world for children to suffer from malnutrition. Vast majorities of the population are undernourished, underweight, anemic, and growth stunted. Angola came fifth and the writers of the report said that the Republic of Angola is a southern African territory and is known as the fifth worst place to be born. Angola has suffered extensive periods of economic hardships due to nearly twenty-seven years of civil war. Due to long periods of constant battle, Angola has also proved to be quite dangerous for its natives. The life expectancy is also very low, averaging at 52 years.

From the Streets of the South East of Nigeria I saw the faces of deprived Children who are just existing like the wretched of the earth with no government intervention to take them off the streets and these children encounter all kinds of dangers and threats and most of then are victims of sexual and physical violence. No wonder the CHAIRMAN, Bill and Melinda Foundation, Bill Gates, said that Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth with the fourth worst maternal mortality rate in the world ahead of only Sierra Leone, Central African Republic and Chad.

Gates who stated this at the Expanded National Economic Council presided over by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, said that Nigeria’s fiscal situation was at a low equilibrium, adding that in return for low levels of service, people pay low levels of tax.

The philanthropist disclosed that his foundation’s biggest office in Africa was Nigeria where he had committed over $1.6 billion so far with the intention of increasing his commitment in the country.

He said that Nigeria has unmatched economic potential but that what becomes of the potential depends on the choices her leaders make.

According to him, “The most important choice you can make is to maximize your greatest resource, the Nigerian people. Nigeria will thrive when every Nigerian is able to thrive.

“If you invest in their health, education and opportunities-the “human capital” we are talking about today-then they will lay the foundation for sustained prosperity. If you don’t, however, then it is very important to recognise that there will be a sharp limit on how much the country can grow.

“Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth with the fourth worst maternal mortality rate in the world ahead of only Sierra Leone, Central African Republic and Chad. One in three Nigerian children is chronically malnourished.

“I urge you to apply this thinking to all your investments in your people. The Nigerian government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan identifies “investing in our people” as one of three “strategic objectives.” But the “execution priorities” don’t fully reflect people’s needs, prioritizing physical capital over human capital.

“To anchor the economy over the long term, investments in infrastructure and competitiveness must go hand in hand with investments in people. People without roads, ports, and factories can’t flourish. And roads, ports and factories without skilled workers to build and manage them can’t sustain an economy.” 

Obviously these street children of the Igbo states would have been born by Women who most probably do not have husbands and are therefore not having ant form of family supports.  Also, the social safety nets in the South East of Nigeria is non existent. Government and governance in the South East of Nigeria is by persons belonging to a concentric circles of organised criminal gangsters who are in public offices for personal aggrandizement.  By the way, most of these political office holders actually bought their ways into those offices. So their offices are actually their business Center’s whereby they concentrate essentially to amass as much wealth as they can and so little or no money is expended  towards attainment of adequate child welfare system or is there any functional social safety nets for these categories of persons whose only means of survival is to operate in the streets amidst the vagaries and vicissitudes of the times that are dangerous and too risky for kids to operate. I do also know that mortality rate in the South East is high because much of what you call public healthcare institutions are dysfunctional just as all the yearly budgets passed by the slumbering states houses of assembly in the South East of Nigeria are essentially  stolen and pocketed by the governors. Officially, the health conditions of Children born into poor homes are deplorable.  

According to the Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS, 2018), the under-five mortality rate in Nigeria is 132 per 1,000 live births meaning that 1 in 8 Nigerian children never reach the age of 5. Infant deaths, which account for half of child mortality have declined from 87 per 1000 live births in 1990 to 67 in 2018. One (1) Nigerian woman dies in childbirth every 10 minutes, and 1 Nigerian child under-5 years of age dies every minute.

It is apparent through the elevated mortality rates that the lack of access to quality delivery services is an issue of immense importance in Nigeria. Problems such as cost for treatment, deplorable state of the health facilities, distance to health facility lack of awareness and knowledge for informed decisions and referral are some of the many difficulties stated by caregivers in describing difficulty with accessing healthcare.

Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) and iCCM are the key child survival thrust being used by the Nigerian Government to address the unacceptably high under-5 morbidity and mortality indices.

Dr Bose Adeniran, Head of Child Health Department, Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) stated that “Child mortality has been a long pending issue in Nigeria and a lot of mothers are not aware of the causes and or prevention.”

She added that “iCCM is a complete package focusing on prevention and also on curative and I think that is what our children need. In Abia and Niger States, we now have local evidence that this (iCCM) is the way to go as it relates to addressing the unacceptably high under-five mortality rate in Nigeria”

Substantial global progress has been made in reducing child deaths since 1990. The total number of under-5 deaths worldwide has declined from 12.6 million in 1990 to 5.3 million in 2018. On average, 15 000 children under-5 die each day compared with 34 000 in 1990. Since 1990, the global under-5 mortality rate has dropped by 58%, from 93 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 39 in 2017 This is equivalent to 1 in 11 children dying before reaching age 5 in 1990, compared to 1 in 26 in 2018.

“With numerous World Health Organization’s (WHO) supports to Nigeria, many caregivers, especially in the rural areas are now aware of the available essential package of interventions for child survival along the continuum of care”, says Dr Joy Ufere, WHO, Family and Reproductive Health Cluster.

She added that “WHO will continue to provide leadership role to monitor the implementation of these interventions towards reducing Under-5 morbidity and mortality across Nigeria.”

I honestly think that the South East of Nigeria must embrace the task of eradicating the social menace of street children because of the long term consequences of not doing anything to better the lot of the deprived Children who are forced to go to the streets to try to survive in these hard times.  A stitch in time should save nine so the South East of Nigeria is not turned into the breeding grounds of future armed bandits like we have I’m the North of Nigeria whereby the UNESCO estimated that there are over 10 million out of school children. 

*Emmanuel Onwubiko is the Head of HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA). He blogs@www.huriwanigeria.com, www.thenigerianinsidernews.com.

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Opinion

That failed kidnap attempt on Sunday Igboho

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That failed kidnap attempt on Sunday Igboho

By Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb, LL.M, Ph. D, LL.D

The act of a combined team of soldiers, DSS and Police, numbering about 40 attempted to arrest and detain Sunday Adeniyi Adeyemo Igboho was too much in the form of a kidnap attempt. Igboho was said to have been waylaid along Ibadan/Lagos Expressway whilst on his way to see Pa Ayo Adebanjo in Lagos. It was totally and absolutely unnecessary. A government exists to protect its citizens, not to terrorise them. If the government believed that Sunday Igboho had committed an offence, the best route would have been to simply send him an invitation to report to a Police station for interrogation.
If the security agents felt there were any internal security issues or breach of the law, they should have invited him to the DSS or Police office. It became therefore totally absurd that a whole security armada like soldiers, the Police and the DSS will waylay an innocent Nigerian citizen in a commando-like manner and attempt to abduct him. At least, Nigerians have not been told he has committed an offence, or what offence, if any.
What if Sunday Igboho and his handlers had felt they were being kidnapped and responded with a shootout? There would have been unnecessary mayhem and loss of lives because of the indecent and incongruous manner and way the attempted arrest was carried out.
What the government does not still seem to understand is that because it has failed to give security and welfare to the Nigerian people as provided for in Section 14 of the 1999 Constitution, ethnic nationalism is fast rising in a way that ethnic groups and the various nationalities in the Nigerian contraption have begun to feel that they need to go the extra mile to protect themselves from ravaging insecurity. That is why I always ask, who is advising this government?

The present ravaging insecurity is what led to the emergence of Amotekun, in the South West and the Eastern Security Network in the South East. There have also mushroomed various local policing militias across the country. It is the failure of the government to provide security that is at the root cause of these defensive measures.
Someone needs to drum it to the ears of this government that the young man with a tattooed face that proudly displays his tribal marks is no longer an ordinary “small boy” representing himself alone. He has become a metaphor for the Yoruba struggle for self-determination. At least, if you are not giving us self-determination, do not kill us in our homes and farms, the young man seems to be yearning on behalf of the Yoruba race.
Sunday Igboho is no longer ordinary. He is the equivalent of IPOB’s Nnamdi Kanu for the Igbos. He came out from nowhere to become the voice of the voiceless. He wears the new face of the Yoruba struggle for emancipation. The earlier this government understands this, the better for everybody.
Sunday Igboho from Igboho town recently came to national limelight when he stormed Igangan on January 15, 2021, and gave a quit notice to Fulani herders terrorizing his people in the Southwest through kidnappings and killings. Igboho was said to have earlier risen to fame during the Ife-Modakeke fratricidal war in which he played a major role between 1997 and 1998. Born in Igboho of Oke-Ogun area of Oyo state on October 10, 1972, he had relocated to Modakeke in Osun state. He started life as a roadside motorcycle mechanic and later ventured into car sales. Upon return to Ibadan, he met former Oyo state Governor, Lam Adesina, and also worked with Rashidi Adedoja. The Akoni Oodua of Yoruba land is the new face of the Yoruba struggle for emancipation, self-determination and racial respect. Does the federal government realize this? Igboho is believed by his teeming admires to possess magical powers that lift him beyond mere mortals like you and I. So famed was he that, a 2017 Yoruba Movie (Parts 1-4) by the same name “Sunday Igboho” was cast after his personality. Does this government appreciate these peoples’ sentiments?

WAY FORWARD
Sunday Igboho can approach a court of law under the Fundamental Rights Enforcement (Procedure) Rules and seek protection from being killed, arrested, being waylaid, being detained and having his humanity degraded. He can go to court to seek his fundamental rights that he is entitled to freedom of movement, freedom of association and the right to move about and across Nigeria to any part that he wishes, without let or hindrance. See sections 32, 33, 35, 40 and 41 of the 1999 Constitution.
A court of law will readily grant him that protection because it has not been shown that he has committed any offence; and none is alleged against him. If any has been alleged against him, then they could invite him over to make a statement. We are operating a constitutional democracy where things are done by the rule of law; not rule of the thumb.
This government is too jerky. It embraces too much fire brigade approach to issues. That is the danger in it. The government must know that if they had killed Sunday Igboho yesterday, may be with a stray bullet, or by mistake, or deliberately, I don’t think Nigeria would have been having a nice weekend today.
The government should understand this. Let them understand that there is anger, despondency. There is fear across the country; fear of death, fear of fear. So, they (the DSS and the Police) should never attempt to do what they did yesterday (Friday) so as not to trigger unnecessary national hoopla, national insurrection, national commotion, national brouhaha. I have said my own.

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When will Nigeria be finally abducted?

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When will Nigeria be finally abducted?

By Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb, LL.M, Ph. D, LL.D

INTRODUCTION
Is Nigeria not being abducted by Boko haram bandits, herders, kidnappers, armed robbers and terrorists? The scenario is frightening and heart-rending. Let us see.
CHIBOK, BORNO STATE, 14TH – 15TH APRIL, 2014.
276 school girls abducted by dreaded Boko Haram insurgents. Former president Goodluck Jonathan was almost roasted alive. The present government’s leading lights harped on it. The then candidate Buhari of APC and other APC stalwarts salivated over the fatal blow to GEJ’s presidency by this singular unfortunate incident. 112 so far released on payment of undisclosed huge ransom. Fast forward. Buhari clinched power and was sworn in on May 29, 2015, with the most outstanding campaign promise (aside revamping the economy and killing corruption), being to lead from the front (as a retired former military Head of State); and crush Boko Haram. Nigerians believed him. Afterall, he fought at the war front during the 3 year bloody Nigerian-Biafran civil war.
However, let us see Buhari’s ugly tale of the tape: Dapchi, Yobe state. 110 school girls abducted on February 19, 2018. 110 have been released on huge ransom (the exact amount of which the Buhari government has refused to tell us till date). 6 are still held, including beautiful Leah Sharibu, who refused to recant his Christian faith.
Kankara, Katsina state; 340 school children abducted in December, 2020, by about 100 Boko Haram bandits riding motocycles. They were all released after payment of huge sums (amount not disclosed till date by an ever opaque government). Big business. More lucrative than citing industries or setting up banks. Dangote that goes to bank to take huge loans to remain the forbes richest man in Africa will no doubt be envious and green with envy.
Kagara, Niger state. 42 people, which included 27 students, 3 staff of Government Science Secondary School and 12 of their family members abducted. Till now, they are held by the bandits. Then, only yesterday, Zamfara State Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, was their next port of call. About 315 of the 500 boarded students were abducted. Governor Bello Matawalle who has so far done excellently well on security matters, and in pushing back armed bandits, is optimistic they would be released without ransom.
A common thread and trend: Girls schools are targeted. Weaker vessels. Not boys schools! Huge sums demanded as ransom. Payment made. Girls (not all) suddenly released. Bandits and Boko Haram smile to their hides out. They purchase more weapons. They wait a while. Strike again. Circle repeats itself. No Federal Government in sight. Oh, it is in sight – but only in boasting that it will fish out the bandits and stop further re-ocurrence. That is the end. How many students so far abducted? 276 under Jonathan. 807 under Buhari. Over 1000. This country is in a complete mess. Worse than ever before. So, when will Nigeria be finally abducted?

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Police brutality after #Endsars: Why justice may elude many

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Police brutality after #Endsars: Why justice may elude many

By Princess Ekwi Ajide

On 26th October, 2020 when 29 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), constituted judicial investigative panels of enquiry to look into allegations of police excesses in Nigeria, occasioned by the #EndSARS campaign, many felt respite was coming at last but that seems to be far from the truth as Nigerians tend to forget too soon.

As at 30th December, 2020, the judicial panels had received a total of 2,500 petitions but unfortunately as is the normal with the Nigerian government, nearly four months since the panels were constituted across the states, there have been minimal prosecutions or compensations. Thankfully last week the Lagos State government announced a N10m compensation for victims of police brutality but many are asking how sufficient would that be or if the sum to be distributed among many victims will be enough to placate pains and anger of wounds of many years. This investigation though, is for another day.

The petitions bothering on allegations of human rights abuses such as extra-judicial killings, excessive torture of suspects, extortion, harassment, sexual and gender based violence, indiscriminate arrests, illegal detention and abuse of power by the police and other security agencies are still being looked into because many of the panels have little or no funding to continue the job.

What then becomes of the outcome or findings of the panels? Observers say this conspiracy of silence smirks of lack of political will or a deliberate connivance by government and government officials to support the police to cover up.

EndSARS protesters who were later reported to have been allegedly shot at by the military in Lagos, killing about 12 and scores injured had sought among other things, the establishment of an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of reported cases of police indiscretion, disbandment of the dreaded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, among others and in response to these calls, states like Anambra, Delta, Edo, Enugu, Kaduna, Lagos, Imo, Ondo the Federal Capital Territory and a host of other states constituted a judicial panel to look into the allegations while the Federal government disbanded SARS but renamed and replaced it with what it called SWAT.

With the recent happenings in Nigeria however, one is wont to wonder if #EndSARS protests may have become efforts in futility since nothing has changed; citizens, journalists irrespective of age or status are still being brutalized by security agencies in Nigeria but the public seem to have forgotten so soon the carnage, loss of lives and property that followed the #EndSARS Campaign probably because these tragedies have become a daily occurrence and government is obviously catching in on the forgetfulness of Nigerians and may soon sweep under the carpet the many demands of the #EndSARS Campaigners and may not even punish the accused which will be like postponing the doomsday.

Apparently, #EndSARS was just one of the avenues for citizens to vent their anger and if these demands are not met appropriately, it may spell doom since the anger is still there just waiting for the opportunity.

Government may have succeeded in silencing the protesters but their anger has not been assuaged which is risky as something bigger than#EndSARS according to some religious leaders could be waiting to happen and when it happens, who knows? who or what will be caught in the line of fire?

Meanwhile, early in February, 2021, a group of youths again attempted to converge on the Lekki Toll Gate; scene of the alleged shootings in October 2020 to revive the #EndSARS struggle. Tagged #EndSARS2, the protest was however contained by security operatives who were on ground to maintain peace. Several arrests were made and the rally was terminated.

Efforts of the security operatives may have saved the day as hoodlums may once again hijack the rally just like it happened in October.

For this, the government needs to make hay while the sun shines as neglect of the agitations of #EndSARS may spell doom for Nigeria as a country if nothing is done and fast enough to placate the many agitations of the youths who in their best interest, should jettison all forms of violence

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