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Understanding the science of hand hygiene during COVID-19



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Understanding the Science of hand hygiene during COVID-19

What Teenagers and Young Adults Should Know

By Chidindu Mmadu-Okoli

As we battle with the second peak in COVID-19 cases, there is a strong need for young people to not relent in taking preventative measures, since they make up the majority of Nigeria’s productive force.

What happens when we wash our hands?

When one affirms “My health is in my hands”, there is an unannounced responsibility that translates to “My life and the lives of my neighbours and loved ones are in my hands.” This way, we rise to the challenge of protecting our world from the harmful unknown. There are more microbes on earth than there are humans. They can be found in our bodies, the soil, our foods, in the air, amongst many other places and surfaces you can imagine. In fact, it is said that there are a billion microorganisms in one teaspoon of soil.

Belonging to a family of mRNA viruses, SARS-COV-2 (the Novel Coronavirus), which causes COVID-19 is just one of the countless microbes. COVID-19 is not just a disease: it is a pandemic and an amplifier. It has changed our lives and has shown us that the little things to which we pay little or no attention, can actually become the gradual crack that gives way for the fall of any system. When it comes to infectious disease outbreaks, we are only as strong as our weakest links. In Nigeria, these weak links to health security range from large challenges like political will towards epidemic preparedness to little things like taking personal responsibility towards the spread of diseases. Amongst many other efforts that citizens should take towards preventing the spread of COVID-19, good hand hygiene and quality water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) facilities are non-negotiable.

Why is Handwashing Important?

Daily, germs are spread during various activities, through movements and contact with humans, objects, animals, and our environment. Germs are also spread when we touch our body parts, especially our faces, eyes, nose, mouth, doorknobs, stair rails, currency notes, and other surfaces with unwashed hands. We can also spread diseases through our food, drinks, bad toileting, and so on. Thousands of people also die daily from infections acquired during healthcare delivery. The hands are the major pathway for transmitting these diseases within and beyond the hospital settings.

To save our lives and those of others we come in contact with thereby reducing the spread of these germs, hand hygiene has to be a continuous critical part of our lives during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. One cannot say, “I have achieved hand hygiene,” because it is a journey and not a destination.

We wash our hands before and after cooking, eating, using the toilets, touching objects/surfaces, or caring for a patient. Most importantly, we ought to wash our hands even when they are not visibly dirty. When we return from our day’s activities, our duty to keep ourselves alive daily through healthy habits. Hand hygiene habits include performing a proper, regular universally-acceptable handwashing procedure, and using alcohol-based hand sanitizers (with at least 60% alcohol content) to perform regular hand rubs.

What happens to the Novel Coronavirus when we wash our hands?

Coronavirus can linger in the air and survive on surfaces. If an unprotected person makes less than 2-feet of contact with an infected person or touches these surfaces, and then goes ahead to touch their face, eyes, mouth, or nose, they stand a high risk of contracting the virus. As such, twenty seconds of handwashing done with soap and clean water is capable of destroying the particles of the Coronavirus which are unseen by the naked eyes, hence keeping you and your family safe.

A simple way to understand how handwashing does this is to think of what happens when you wash your dirty, oily, or greasy clothes in soap and water. Soaps have an amphiphilic property, i.e. they have a water-loving or water-attracting end (hydrophilic head) and a fat-loving end (hydrophobic tail), which makes them interact with both water and lipid phases of a solution.

During laundry, soap binds to the (oil end of the) dirt/grease/oil stain on your clothes, dissolves it, and then washes it away.

This same mechanism applies to the Coronavirus when we perform handwashing for at least 20 seconds. The novel coronavirus has a lipid-rich envelope, a shell-like structure enclosed by fatty acids (phospholipid bilayer). This structure is similar to the oil droplet or grease stains on our clothes. During handwashing, the hydrophobic tail of the soap binds to the hydrophobic envelope layer of the virus since both are fat-loving.

As you keep washing your hands, the molecule takes out the phospholipid bilayer of the viral envelope and tears it apart. Note that this does not happen if you wash your hands for less than 20 seconds. The non-covalent bonds existing between these lipids break apart, rupture, and dissolves the viral shell, destroys the viral particle, and washes the viral material down the sink/drainage.

Additionally, for hand rubs, when we may not have access to soap and water, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) recommends hand sanitizers with no less than 60% ethyl alcohol constituent. The alcohol in hand sanitizers uses similar mechanisms in handwashing procedures to annihilate the Coronavirus. However, handwashing remains the best hand hygiene method as it also removes all forms of debris and allows them to be washed wavy from our hands.

Knowing that clean water, soap, and at least 20 seconds are required to observe regular and proper handwashing, all hands must be on deck. Young people must then take responsibility for their health and safety during this period and beyond. For teens, parents, teachers, and guardians should provide and maintain hand hygiene materials needed to initiate, promote, and sustain this healthy habit, in our homes and schools.

The government is also not left out. While we advocate for this level of commitment towards flattening the curve, we also realize that handwashing is impossible in the absence of clean water. The Nigerian government needs to support behavioural change efforts for hand hygiene by fully implementing and funding her National Hygiene Promotion Strategy and her National Action Plan for Health Security, to provide quality and structural WASH facilities that enable young people to fully embrace the handwashing culture and amplify this behaviour in the communities that they live and thrive. Not all heroes wear capes, some wear clean hands. So, bury the germs; wash your hands.

Chidindu Mmadu-Okoli a freelance health writer and a Fellow of the African Science Literacy Network (ASLN)

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HACFO on how Aisha was forcefully abducted, converted, and married off with consent of emir




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HACFO on how Aisha was forcefully abducted, converted, and married off with consent of emir

Rafin Iyaka Sabuwar Kasa, Kafur LGA of Katsina State is a mixed community of both Christian and Muslim Hausas, but the Christians continued to live in pains and bondage perpetrated by the Muslim side that constantly enjoys the protection of the District Head of Kafur and the Emir of Katsina.

These two Islamic traditional rulers do everything possible to stop the constitutionally recognized law enforcement agencies like the Police from rightly carrying out their statutory duties. That is why any crime committed against the Christians will always be swept under the carpet.

Due to the previous experiences of the Christian community of Gidan Dandada Rafin Iyaka on the abduction and forceful conversion of their young girls which Aisha happens to be the 9th person, the Family of Aisha didn’t hesitate to report some strange moves of one Mohammed Samaila around their 15 year old daughter to their village head.

As usual, the said Mohammed Samaila and his father kept denying having anything to do with Aisha. These strange moves continue for about two years and the village head was not willing to take any action against the said Mohammed Samaila. When the family of Aisha could no longer tolerate what they were seeing, they decided to relocate Aisha from the village Gidan Dandada Rafin Iyaka, to Funtua for Aisha to be staying with her elder sister.

On 10th February, 2021, Aisha went missing from the house where she stays. When the elder sister and her husband searched everywhere possible and could not locate Aisha, they quickly reported it to the Funtua Police Station to help them find Aisha.

Two days later, on 12th February 2021, Aisha’s Parents received a call from the District Head of Kafur telling them to stop searching for Aisha because she is safe with him in his house. He claimed that one Idris Shehu brought her to his house. On hearing that, Aisha’s family went to see the District Head of Kafur at his palace in order to bring their daughter back home, but to their dismay, it was not possible. He refused releasing her on the ground that she wanted to convert to Islam. Aisha’s parents insisted but the District Head refused them access to their Daughter.

Ten days later, the District Head called Aisha’s parents to tell them that one Mohammed Sama’ila wants to marry Aisha their daughter. When Aisha’s parents went to the District Head’s palace, they rejected the issue of the marriage. They insisted their daughter be returned to them and continue with her school and if anyone wants to marry her, he should follow the due process. The District Head ignored Aisha’s parents and went ahead to arrange marriage between Aisha and Mohammed Samaila without the consent and approval of Aisha’s Family.

When Aisha’s Family did everything possible and peaceful for Aisha to be returned to them and they were ignored and humiliated, they decided to engage the services of a law firm; A. U. Ajodo & CO. Legacy Chambers to help them bring Aisha back.

The Law Firm immediately wrote a petition against the District Head ( Alh. Abdulrahman Rabe and Mohammed Sama’ila to the Katsina State Commissioner of Police through the Malumfashi Area Command demanding the immediate arrest, investigation and prosecution of these two suspects and the immediate release of Aisha back to her Family.

Unfortunately, the Police did not arrest these two culprits or do anything to ensure the return of Aisha. They only summoned the District Head of Kafur without the said Mohammed Samaila. The Area Commander told the District Head not to go ahead with the marriage plans between Aisha and Mohammed Samaila, but the district head ignored the police directive.

They later agreed for the girl to be brought to the police station and be returned to her family but the District Head refused to comply. Instead, he decided to take the girl to the Emir of Katsina at Katsina on that same day he was to bring the girl to the police station. On reaching there, the Emir of Katsina joined Aisha and Mohammed in marriage without the consent of her parents.

As it is now, the Katsina state police command are not willing to carry out their statutory duties as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution and ensure justice is done.

It is very important to note that this is not the first time such a thing is happening. The said District Head of Kafur is known for such … acts right …. .

The village of Gidan Dandada Rafin Iyaka, Sabuwar Kasa, Kafur LGA, Katsina State has suffered such unjust treatments from the District Head of Kafur who is also backed by the Emir of Katsina. Till date a total of nine Hausa Christian Girls have been abducted, forcefully converted to Islam and forced into early marriage.

The following are the names of the girls that were abducted, forcefully converted to Islam and forced into marriage from this village by the same District Head:
1) Jamima Solomon
2) Christiana Mamman
3) Deborah Habila
4) Phoebe Dankano
5) Rifkatu Markus (Rescued)
6) Saratu Isah (Returned her when she went mad after two years)
7) Dije Yakubu Nalami (Abducted as a married woman, and returned when she died)
8) Rebeccah Ado (Returned Pregnant)
9) Aisha Mani (Currently in captivity)

It is on record that any time this Christian Community agitates against the injustice done to them, the Muslim youths will violently go after them and threaten to burn down the Church and houses of the Christians.

The Hausa Christians Foundation (HACFO) is working tirelessly to ensure the safe and unconditional return of Aisha Mani and to ensure that justice is duly served.

We covet your prayers and support to ensure that Aisha is reunited with her family. Kindly pray for the Northern Christians especially the families whose daughters have been abducted, forced into Islam and marriage. Northern Nigeria is becoming hell for Christians to live in.

▪︎The Hausa Christian Foundation (HACFO) can be reached via and

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Yinka Odumakin: The Exit Of A Convinced Humanist




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Yinka Odumakin: The Exit Of A Convinced Humanist

By Rauf Aregbesola

The circumstance of his demise were quite unusual. Though a picture he took with Papa Ayo Adebanjo, indicating he was not in the best shape of health had appeared on the internet not quite long ago; still, it caught us by surprise. The human mind has the incredible capacity to suppress morbid suggestions on loved ones, bordering on denial. But now, as the dust is settling and the tears are drying, we are beginning to reconcile to the fact that Yinka Odumakin is gone.

February 20, earlier this year, was the last time I had a telephone conversation with him. He was his natural self. He could be vivacious when excited and could also be dead sober, if the matter requires it. I never had any premonition it would be our last conversation.

Odumakin straddled the political spectrum, breaking into public consciousness as a students union activist at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, then practiced journalism at The Punch newspaper; was also part the struggles for military disengagement and deannulment of June 12, 1993 Presidential election won by Chief Moshood Abiola. In the post military era, Yinka retained his public presence with his participation in the politics of AD, AC, ACN, CPC and reportedly flirted with former President Goodluck Jonathan. He later consolidated his activism in Yoruba nationalism, being a highly visible spokesperson of Afenifere. He was a tenacious advocate of his convictions; never gave up on whatever he believed in, regardless of the opposition.

How did we meet? Yinka Odumakin and Bunmi Omoshehindemi walked into my office as the CGS of Bola Ahmed Tinubu Campaign Organisation office at Sunday Adigun St., Alausa Ikeja. It was in November of 1998.

Both came to declare support for the candidacy of Bola Tinubu unequivocally. This was in defiant opposition to those then opposed to any form of accommodation for democratic building process without a clear resolution of the June 12 imbroglio. This was a courageous step, then considering that their position would have been considered anathema by the movement. We had since then built a robust relationship, sometimes very smooth and at times frosty, but all the time remarkable till his translation on Friday, April 2, 2021.

I said we had a remarkable relationship because Yinka was consistent in standing up to fight for democracy, federalism, justice and rule of law. These to me are the factors for defining the dignity of man. Whoever has this commitment is an ally and a humanist.

Yinka has had to publicly criticise me a couple of times, especially when I was governor in Osun, our relationship notwithstanding. I took it in good faith, as it never affected our relationship. His criticisms were consistent with his convictions on what constitute public interest.

I am therefore proud to have known, interacted and worked with a humanist that doggedly fought for the dignity of people.

Yinka Odumakin, you will wake up to joyful activities on the other side. May the good Lord support your wife, family and friends. Ameen.

Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is Minister of Interior, Federal Republic of Nigeria

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Nigeria: These Terrible Times and Lessons of Easter




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Nigeria: These Terrible Times and Lessons of Easter

Easter Message of YOWICAN President

This Easter, I want us all to think about the unconditional love that Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, had for us to the extent that He gave His life for our salvation.

His resurrection by God. What a lesson for young people of Nigeria and of what sacrifice can this achieve and the benefits it can bring to mankind generally and individually!

This Easter, I call on all, whether Christian or Muslim, to emulate Christ and sacrifice something for your nation, for your families and for yourselves. The young people are the change agents, let us not ask ourselves who will change our nation for the better. You and I are the ones that will cause the desired change our nation needs. Change begins with you and I. Young people of Nigeria, look in the mirror and ask how we can change our nation for better.

As agents of change, the youth should be wise enough to know what is good and bad before the law and in the sight of God. Avoid being used by politicians for thuggery; reject being enlisted into the Army of bandits, kidnappers and Boko Haram. But accept to be enlisted into God’s Army. From all what are going on in different parts of the country, it is obvious that Nigerians have declared war against themselves.

How did the weapons find themselves into private hands? Although the government has tried, the best option is to embark on a mission to mop up all the arms and weapon in circulation. While we oppose amnesty and rehabilitation of bandits and Boko Haram insurgents, we will be wrong thinking that they will turn a new leaf. That will be encouraging blackmail and putting the lives of the defenceless citizens before firing squad.

Let us emulate Christ and have a change of heart. Turn from evil ways to good. Let this Easter be the beginning of a positive change in our nation, Africa and the world at large. I join other well-meaning Christian faithful all over the world to thank God for giving us all the grace to witness this year’s Easter celebration.

As we commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I enjoin us all to imbibe the spirit of love, sacrifice, forgiveness, perseverance and tolerance that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ taught us.


•YOWICAN condemns and frowns seriously at the intra-communal war between Ezza-Effium and Effium clans in Ohaukwu Local Government of Ebonyi State and the killing of over 16 persons aged between 18 and 56 in Obeagu community in Ishielu LGA by suspected Fulani herdsmen. We demand justice for the victims in both crises. It is surprising that brothers in Ezza-Effium and Effium clans have declared war on themselves the end of which nobody can predict.

•We also condemn the assassination attempt on Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom and a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo in which three police orderlies were killed ahead of the governorship election in Anambra State scheduled for November 6. These are not acceptable to Nigerians. All these threats to life must stop, we must live together as one Nigeria.

I extend my sincere and heartfelt condolences to the Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. Dave Umahi and the various families that lost their loved ones. during this heartless killing. Same for Soludo and for Governor Ortom, we are with you in prayers.

Happy Easter to you all


Belusochukwu Enwere
Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria Youth Wing (YOWICAN)
April 4 2021


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