Tag Archive | "Nigeria"

Nigeria records 11,600 maternal deaths in 3 months


 

By Chioma Obinna & Monsur Olowoopejo

LAGOS— SOCIETY of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria said, yesterday, that no fewer than 11,600 maternal deaths were recorded in Nigeria in the last three months, adding that 45 cases were recorded daily.

This came as the wife of the Lagos State Governor, Mrs. Abimbola Fashola, said the state would establish emergency toll-free lines solely designated for maternal cases.

Speaking at the Lagos West I Senatorial District Town Hall Meeting for maternal and child mortality reduction programme, at Oshodi-Isolo Local Government, Chairman Lagos State Chapter of the Society, Dr. Oluwarotimi Akinola, said: “Nigeria accounts for a disproportionate 10 percent of the global maternal deaths. This ranked the country as the second highest in the world after India.

“The major causes of the high maternal mortality rate in Nigeria are hemorrhage infection, hypertensive disorder of pregnancy, obstructed labour and anaemia. Any effort by the government to drastically reduce maternal mortality rates must address the root causes of delays in seeking health care, accessing healthcare and receiving help at the centre.”

Mrs Fashola said: “These lines would ensure that whenever any pregnant women are about to deliver, she can get help easily even when any of her relatives aren’t available.

“The lines will be the same as the already established emergency toll free lines 767 and 112.

“The death of a pregnant woman or death after childbirth is a painful event with great social and economic impact on the family and the country.

“At the close of work today, about 800 women from different countries would have died from complications related to pregnancy and child birth.

“99 percent (792) of these will occur in developing countries, including Nigeria.

“This statistic, released by the Chairman of the Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Lagos sector, is alarming for a country that is regarded as the giant of Africa.

“This day (yesterday) will now be observed annually as Lagos State Maternal and Child Mortality Reduction Day.”

“Let us bear in mind that the statistic can be reduced drastically only if pregnant women and mothers of children under five years visit the over 60 Primary Health Care, PHC, centres constructed across the state by the government, to get information on what to do when faced with challenging condition during pregnancy, childbirth and after delivery.

“The importance of this town hall meeting initiated by the state government is to sensitise residents of the state, especially nursing and mothers-to-be, on the maternal and child mortality reduction programme launched on October 18, 2012 by the governor.

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Robbers invade Murtala Muhammed Airport •Raid Bureau de Change, kill 2, injure many


Written by  Shola Adekola

 

 

 

THAT the Murtala Muhammed International Airport is  porous  was on Wednesday night again confirmed, as deadly looking  robbers, numbering over 10, beat the airport security network to unleash terror on the entire airport. Two people were feared dead.

According to an eyewitness,  the armed robbers had entered the airport through the terminal zero, proceeded to the arrival hall and penetrated the departure hall of the terminal.

The incident, which occurred around 8.00 p.m. took the various security officials stationed at the airport by surprise with most of them  scampering  for safety due to the superior deadly weapons  the robbers paraded.

The eyewitness who works within the airport terminal building, explained further that on entering the terminal, the armed robbers ordered all the users of the airport to lie down while those who refused to comply were shot at.

In the process, a protocol officer of Addax Oil Company simply identified as Chike was shot and reportedly taken to a hospital through an ambulance after the armed robbers had left the airport.

The reason for the attack on the airport and the extent of damage could not be ascertained as at the time of filing this report, but another source who works with one of the agencies at the airport explained that the attack showed porosity of the entire airport.

However, information gathered indicated that the robbers were not able to penetrate into the central search of the airport.

The Nigerian Tribune however gathered that some people lost their lives following the manner the robbers shot sporadically while trying to find their ways to the terminal building.

As at the time of filing this report, it could not be ascertained the number of casualties but in responding,  the Corporate Communications, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr Yakubu Dati confirmed the incident, but said that the men of the Nigerian Police attached to the airport foiled an attempted robbery attack at the airport.

Dati explained that there was an exchange of fire, which resulted in the death of one of the robbers, stressing that the level of casualty was still being ascertained as at press time.

He, however, said that the robbers might have come to the airport to attack some of the bureau de change operators within the premises.

He added, “The situation has since been brought under control by the swift intervention of joint security force. They were apparently attempting to rob a bureau de change operator near the airport. Normal operations and flight have not been affected by the incident.”

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Zungeru: Nigeria’s neglected birthplace


Zungeru is a town in the present Niger State and can be said to be the birthplace of Nigeria and many prominent Nigerians. The pact bringing Nigeria into being was signed there and a number of colonial relics scatter all over the town.  The first Nigeria’s indigenous Governor-General, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu and the incumbent Senate President, David Mark, were all born there, yet the historic community, which ought to be a tourist centre, begs for development. ADELOWO OLADIPO reports.
LITTLE was known about it prior to the advent of the British colonialists who were undoubtedly looking for a conducive place to settle down. With its clement weather and proximity to Kaduna River, Zungeru, a historical town in Niger State where the Northern and Southern protectorates of Nigeria were later amalgamated, easily caught the attention of the colonialists who used the town as their operational base.
The colonialists, some of whom employees of the Royal Niger Company, had combed towns and villages in a place later to be named Nigeria, prospecting for the company. Lord Lugard, the Governor-General of Nigeria between 1914 and 1919, for instance, was in Jebba and Lokoja where he settled down for a while before he later shifted his base to Zungeru, the then emerging trading point in Nigeria.
With the coming of the colonialists, Zungeru, an erstwhile Gwari-Nupe settlement, shot into limelight and drew people from the length and breadth of the country who settled down there. Being an emerging base of a yet-to-be-created nation and the European lifestyle as well as the desire of many to seek a greener pasture outside their towns and villages, people from different parts of the country were motivated to migrate to the town.
Zungeru served as the birthplace of the Nigeria’s first indigenous Governor-General, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, the late Biafran leader, Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the incumbent Senate President, Senator David Mark and many other Nigerians who later rose to stardom in the country. The town is home to European military cemetery, a colonial market,  the amalgamation office, colonial prison, colonial Government House and a bridge built by colonialists as well as many other historical centres.
Sunday Tribune visited the town recently and discovered that Zungeru has been abandoned. All the structures have either collapsed or taken over by the federal highway that passes through the community. However, some of these colonial buildings, though collapsed, still have their foundations intact, except that during the raining season, they are usually overgrown with weeds.
According to Alhaji Abubakar Yusuf, the spokesman of the community, Zungeru has become the shadow of its former self. He said the problem of the town started when late Queen Elizabeth of England instructed Lord Lugard to leave Nigeria for India and Hong Kong with a view to introducing indirect rule in those two countries.
“Thereafter, somebody came to take over from him in Nigeria and the person was Brigadier Thomson Wallace, also of blessed memory. It was this man that complained of harsh weather as well as saying that so many members of the then Armed Forces were falling sick as a result of malaria caused by mosquito bites.
“He was asked to select other suitable places in Nigeria at the period and he chose Kaduna. That was exactly the foundation of what has led to the abandonment of Zungeru till date. Thereafter, Lord Lugard moved to Kaduna, after the completion of his action plan in 1916.”
He stressed that the British military cemetery in the community contained the remains of the first detachment of soldiers of the West African Frontier Force who were buried there, especially those who fought in the World War II. The military cemetery, according to him, consists 50 burial grounds of foreign soldiers and five Nigerians that were buried close to the enclosed cemetery. The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), he said, started in Zungeru.
“We used to have a locomotive engine called Wushishi, now at Minna railway station. We also had a town hall where Lord Lugard used to assemble the community members, which is now a market square in the middle of the town,” Alhaji Yusuf added.
A prominent researcher resident in Zungeru, Malam Mohammed Jibrin, stated that the parents of late Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu worked with the colonial masters for several years as clerks before leaving for Lagos in 1918 after the white men left for Kaduna in 1916.
Malam Jibrin, who took this reporter to the relics of the family compound where late Emeka Ojukwu was born, said even though (he) Emeka and his parents did not come back to Zungeru since they left the town, the fame the family brought to the town and even Nigeria as a whole was enough for the people of the community to identify with him even in death.
“Let us not deceive ourselves; Emeka played an important role in Nigeria and across. I remember him with this simple quotation, ‘How can we be immigrants in our father’s land? We fought to unite, why should we fight again to disunite?’”
He lamented the abandonment of the town, noting that the relics of the colonial buildings in Zungeru ought to have been rebuilt and turned into tourist centres for people within and outside the country.
He said the office where the amalgamation took place in 1914 was still there and not renovated.  According to him, “Zungeru is the home of Nigeria, but unfortunately it has been disowned by its own people. The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Andrew Lloyd, was here recently. His counterpart from Australia, Ian Mccogvilce, also visited this town to inspect the relics scattered all over Zungeru. Some people from the United Kingdom came back to Zungeru with enthusiasm to inspect the tombs of their grand parents who died during the colonial days in the town. So, you can see the role this town played and can still play as a tourist centre for both Nigerians and foreigners alike if properly developed.”

Posted in Nigerian News, Relocating to Nigeria, TourismComments (0)

Nigeria may become the 3rd most populous nation- says UN Chief


By UDUMA KALU, With Agency Reports
LAGOS— Nigeria could be the world’s third most populous nation by 2100, with 700 million people, American economist Jeffrey Sachs has said.

The American economist famous for such books as The End of Poverty, currently serving as special adviser to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, said a three-child policy is needed to contain the population explosion.

Ban visited Nigeria  last week and Sachs commented on Nigeria’s population growth.

The report said Nigeria’s population currently stands at around 160 million, adding that some estimates project that Nigeria could have over 700 million people by 2100, placing it third in population behind China and India.

Proferring a solution, Sachs said, “I am really scared about population explosion in Nigeria. It is not healthy. Nigeria should work towards attaining a maximum of three children per family,” Sachs told AFP on the margins of a presidential interactive meeting with key members of the business community.

He told the meeting earlier that an increased annual economic growth rate from the current seven percent, encouragement of integrated development in economy, agriculture, urban and rural sectors, provision of a good health system, education, power, railway, could see the country become one of the most important economies in the 21st century.

But a Nigerian family planning expert Isaac Ogo who said the three child proposal was not feasible. He pointed to the tradition of polygamy and the belief that the children were seen as a “gift from God” in a male-dominated society. Mr Ogo, from the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria, agrees with the goal but says it will be hard to change the views of many Nigerians.

He says Nigeria is a “high birth, high death” society where many people think: “I need to have as much children as I want, as I don’t know which will survive.”

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Swaziland: We want Nigerian Investments and professionals: Envoy


 

Swaziland has urged Nigerians to invest in its banking, telecommunications and agriculture sectors, Nigeria’s Acting Commissioner to South Africa, Mr Bassey Archibong, has said. 

 

 

Archibong told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday in Johannesburg that the Swazis’desire to do business with Nigerians was discussed with the leadership of its investment promotion authority during his visit to the country.

“For now, the only banks in Swaziland are South African banks and they want Nigerian banks to come on board, while in telecommunications, they have only MTN,” he said.

Archibong said the country was optimistic that the investment would boost Swaziland’s economy.

Apart from investors, Archibong said he also held discussions with authorities in the health and education sectors on the possibility of restarting assistance through the Technical Aids Corps (TAC) scheme which was stopped in 1999.

“The last set was in 1999. So now, they want us to send science and mathematics teachers and doctors and they are so enthusiastic,” Archibong said.

The envoy said many Nigerian professionals were doing well in the country.

Archibong, who described his visit to Swaziland as “very fruitful,’ said no fewer than 3,000 Nigerians were resident in the country.

He said the immigration unit at the Consulate planned visits to Swaziland to ease the acquisition of the new passports by Nigerians there.

The Acting High Commis-sioner restated his resolve to ensure that Nigerians were treated fairly in the country.

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American Undergraduates surprise Nigerians by their mastery of the Yoruba Language


 

Five white American students from the University of Wisconsin, United States of America, who are undergoing a Language immersion programme at the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State, were some of the guests at the 2011 Yoruba Day at the Vivian Fowler Memorial Girl’s College, Lagos. Their mastery of the Yoruba Language is raising fresh concerns among language enthusiasts on the need for parents to encourage their children to speak the language, MOTUNRAYO ABODERIN reports One man’s meat is another man’s poison is a witty saying that aptly describes the decision of some American undergraduates to obtain Bachelors of Art degree in Yoruba Language.

The American students are actually treading a path that many Yoruba parents will never encourage their children to tread. Due to civilisation, the usage of the language has become a taboo in many homes, let alone going to the university to study it. But this is not so for Lauren Halloran, Caraline Harshman, Kelvin Barry, Kelly Moses and O’Neil Keegan, all undergraduate students of the University of Wisconsin, United States of America. Apart from studying the language, they have even adopted Yoruba names. Halloran is Abike, Harshman is Titilayo, Barry has adopted Kayode, and Moses is Akinwumi while Keegan’s Yoruba name is Kolade.

Yoruba Language is the language of about 40 million people living in the South West geo-political zone of Nigeria.

But the language is being threatened with extinction because of the poor disposition of some Yorubas to it. Yoruba Language and culture enthusiasts including Prof. Wande Abimbola, Prof. Akinwumi Isola and Prof. Ayo Bamgbose had at various forums, expressed fears that if care was not taken, the language might go into extinction in some years to come.

However, these students, who are currently at the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State, for a one academic session language immersion programme, were part of guests that witnessed the Yoruba Day organised for pupils of Vivian Fowler Memorial Girl’s College, Lagos recently.

The school’s proprietor, Chief Leila Fowler, said that the Americans were invited for the event to motivate pupils and parents to embrace the use of Yoruba Language in their homes and in school. As each of the students from the University of Wisconsin spoke the Yoruba language with such dexterity and passion, with the American accent, the audience was forced to clap and scream for joy. “Americans speaking Yoruba, our mother tongue! Should this be a slap in the face of Yoruba girls who can’t even say a word in Yoruba?” a parent sitting close to our correspondent asked rhetorically.

The Americans have been at the UI since September 2010 to sharpen their understanding of the Yoruba language and culture. This involves living with Nigerian families for close to one year. The Nigerian families signed an undertaking to speak to the students in Yoruba as well as encourage them to speak the language.

Before coming to Nigeria, they had been learning the Yoruba language at the University of Wisconsin, in the US along with their major courses for close to three years. At their first day in the Yoruba class in America where they were taught by professors from Nigeria, they were given a list of Yoruba names to pick from, and were asked to choose the appellations that best suited them.

And since then, they prefer being called their Yoruba names.

Interestingly, they eat Yoruba food, greet in the Yoruba way, and speak the language better than many Yoruba-born persons.

Kayode, when asked what his best food was, said in Yoruba, “Any day, any time I will go for Oka and Abula (Okro and Amala). It’s divine and I love it. Nigeria is one place I’ve always wanted to live. So, being here is like a dream come true. I wouldn’t trade this opportunity for anywhere else.’’

Being endowed with an unbeatable talent and skills on how to beat the talking drum came as a surprise to the audience. “I developed an intimacy with the language by listening to radio stations, reading Nigerian newspapers, and also watching Yoruba movies. I always listen to Radio Lagos 107.5FM from the US. That really helped in getting to know the Yoruba accent.

“Also, I leant through the Yoruba films, you can watch any type of Yoruba movie on YouTube from America.”

Titilayo, who was the most outspoken of the group, said someday, she wants to become a West African correspondent for one of the top media houses in the world.

“I want to be able to communicate in various African languages without any barrier. After mastering the Yoruba language, I’m going to pick up other African languages,” she said.

Living in the ancient city of Ibadan, she said, had been an interesting experience, bringing her closer to the Yoruba culture and its components,

“My experience in Nigeria so far has been better than what I expected. I never thought I would become a motivation for kids to take pleasure in learning their mother tongue. It has been a big experience. Everyone has been so warm and welcome. Well, I hope this challenges people to know that the Yoruba language is a beautiful one, and Yoruba-speaking parents especially should ensure that they teach their children how to speak the language. If I can do it, so can they,” Titilayo said.

Kolade, the most reserved of the group, said because of his nature, naturally he didn’t think he could stay in Nigeria other than the stipulated time his course required, but because of the warm nature of Nigerians, he might change his mind.

“I’m more of the quiet type, I don’t really like talking. Nigerians are really great at making you feel at home. A lot of people don’t know much about Nigeria, that’s why they have the impression that the country is wild and dangerous. But I have discovered that this impression is not true,” he said.

On some of the challenges he faces, one of their teachers, Mr. Moses Mabayanje, said despite the passion he has for his job, teaching foreigners was harder than teaching Nigerians. “I have passion for what I do, but it can be challenging teaching foreigners than Nigerians who already have an idea and the nitty-gritty of the language. For foreigners, you have to start from the scratch. Also, I have to make sure that the five of them master the Yoruba language,” he said.

Responding to fears that foreigners would one day have to teach Yoruba people their mother tongue, he said, “There is every possibility that this could happen. It may look like a joke, but it could happen. However, I don’t think this would happen as a result of me teaching foreigners the Yoruba language; rather it will be as a result of parents failing to teach and imbibe in their children the Yoruba culture.”

Also, Yoruba author, Olarotimi Makanjuola, said children now prefered speaking either the British English, or most especially the American English to their peers and parents, and that in some years’ time, there would be nothing left of the Yoruba culture if caution wasn’t taken.

“Would our grand children know the English meaning of the Yoruba word, ‘Wa’? Almost everywhere this issue is brought up, people lament on the neglect of the Yoruba language. As they speak, you can hear the pain and sadness in their voices. Very soon, the whites are going to be the ones teaching our children their mother tongue,” he said.

However, the Chairman, Association of Yoruba Language and Culture Teachers Association, Lagos State, Mr. Atanda Olawale, has called on parents and stakeholders in the education sector to fight against the extinction of Yoruba language.

He said, “The greatest tragedy regarding language is the dominating trend of parents wanting to speak only English to their children, making it their first language, and then sending them to private schools which only teach English. This makes these children to value English above other languages.”

“When I heard about the story of the five students from University of Wincosin who are currently in UI studying Yoruba, I was not so shocked because I’ve always said that if we are not careful, the Yoruba language will soon become extinct. Then we will have foreigners coming down here to teach us our own mother tongue,” he said.

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GIRLS FOR SALE


• Inside home where kids, teenagers are on sale
By CHIOMA IGBOKWE

 
 

Are you looking for babies for outright purchase? Or are you in need of children to serve as maids? You don’t need to search further. In the heart of Lagos, a camp exists, where babies, young girls and boys are figuratively on sale. All you need is to pay and take them away without even signing any document.

Investigation by Saturday Sun undercover reporter revealed that kids are brought from villages, in the South East, with the consent of their parents, who are only interested in money and not the welfare or safety of their wards, and camped in houses in Lagos, from where are be given out to anybody who can afford the fee.

Checks showed that some of the kids, who are serving as maids or hawkers for their “slave owners” do not go home to see their parents. And those who did, after many years, especially young girls, are told by their parents not to bother returning, unless they find husbands.

To unearth this child trafficking cum slavery ring, Saturday Sun reporter, visited the baby shops, with a lady who posed as a prospective “buyer.” The lady negotiated and issued a cheque to “buy” a day-old baby.
The experiences of the victims and the reporter’s task to unravel these racket would simply shock you stiff.

The racket
Investigation revealed that most of these children are taken from their families, in far villages, to generate funds in the big city. Topping the chart are kids from Ebonyi State. Greedy parents and relatives give out these underage children for as low as N5,000. The children are ‘sold’ to interested buyers as domestic servants, while others end up being sexually and physically exploited by their masters, giving room to modern slavery. Tired of being abused, most of them run from their slave masters and fend for themselves through hawking. Others, especially the girls, fall into the hands of men who promise marriage but dump them when they get pregnant. Yet others end up in homes where they “make” babies that are sold.

Saturday Sun uncovered the core domain of this illicit business of sale of babies. It thrives in Ilaje, a Lagos slum, at the back, rusty and forsaken streets of Iponri area of Lagos, close to Costain. In these dark alley, some group of men and women perfect child trafficking and sale of newborn babies. It is a well structured business that operates on tiers and layers of conmen – from canvassers to the middleman, the touts, the landladies known popularly as ‘Alhaja’ and the major keepers of the ‘breeder’ little girls.
Investigation revealed that for fear of running out of ‘goods,’ the syndicate has devised means of encouraging “slave” girls to get pregnant as often as possible and submit their babies for sale. In exchange, the innocent girls are given accommodation and some token for upkeep.

The patrons
One woman from Imo State lives with three of such children, checks revealed. Although she did not get these children from the Iponri camp, they are from the same village as most of those in the slave house. The kids were all taken from Akaeze, a town in Ebonyi State. The woman got them some years ago from their families at the ‘price’ of N5,000 each.

The woman, who had taken care of the girls for about two years, told Saturday Sun that her friend took her to Akaeze, where she negotiated and took away the kids from their families. Now, she uses them as maids.
She woman said; “Because she is my friend, I begged her to take me there, as I wanted to find out how true that claim was. Normally, if you pay her, she would travel to Akaeze and return with about five of them or as many as are required. When we got to the village, she took me to the compound of one chief who assists her in picking those children. I made an effort to find out why they give out children as young as four years. They told me that the mothers or parents battle to feed themselves and the only way the children would assist is by getting pregnant with no husband. She told me that the battalions of kids in her compound were all product of unwanted pregnancy.

Her excuse was that the young girls, in a bid to make ends meet, prefer to sleep around to farming.
“I took them three years ago from three different mothers at the tender ages of four, three and six. They are the ones that keep me company, as my children are all grown and in their own homes. The shocking aspect of it was when I assured their grandmother that I would bring them home once in a while and she told me not to bother that God would protect them till they are old enough to find their way home.”

Bad experiences
Some of the young girls and boys shared their experiences and how they found themselves in Lagos. Steve was brought to Lagos with the full knowledge that he was coming to serve and make money for his family. His master promised to send his earnings back home to his family. Before he was rescued by a charity organisation, his job was hawking in the streets and highways, while he remits the returns to his boss, who is resident in Akaeze periodically.

“He rented a house for us at Ilaje, where we keep our wares at the end of the day. He visits from the village from time to time, to take proceeds from us and to bring more children into the fold,” he revealed.
When Steve was picked up, the police traced his boss to Ebonyi, where he was arrested and prosecuted. The young boy was reconciled with his family members, who were disappointed that he came back empty handed. Barely two weeks after he was sent back, Steve resurfaced in the streets of Lagos. When the police arrested him again, under a bridge, his excuse for returning was that life was better in Lagos than in his village.
For 10-year-old Chukwuma from Ezza, his case is mere predicament. He is an orphan. Soon after his parents died, his uncles liquidated the father’s little assets and shared them among themselves.

Chukwuma and two of his siblings were distributed among the uncles, who ‘sold’ them out to serve as maids. Chukwuma found himself in Lagos, in a home where he is expected to tend two children, clean the house, fetch water, wash clothes and dishes. He slept on bare hard floor and fed from the remains of the food, which barely sustained him. He was often a victim of domestic assault from the madam, in addition to the neglect of not being sent to school, like the kids he looked after.

When things became so unbearable, Chukwuma fled and ran into the nearest church that bundled him to the nearest police station. The police swiftly arrested his master and wife.
The boy shocked the police when he told them that the scars all over his body were actually inflicted by his master. According to him, anytime his master whips, he would threaten him with recovery of the money he paid to acquire him. The slave master actually admitted that he paid Chukwuma’s family N20, 000 to take him.
Fortunes, however, cane the way of Chukwuma, after police intervention, as the church that rescued him adopted him.

Chinwe, a little girl, is another victim who set out by the indoctrination she got to make it in Lagos. She is a street trader. That is the means of hitting her big dream in Lagos.
The woman she lives with, unlike many others, enrolled her in a school. But she combined the school activities, in the day, with hawking of meat at a mechanic village nearby. It was in this business place of hers that Saturday Sun spotted her.

When she volunteered to take us to her home, a man who was about to patronise her told Saturday Sun that Chinwe, who claims to be 15 years but looks like a 10- year old girl, is usually in any available bus with any tout that is ready to accommodate her.
At a point, Chinwe blamed her situation on her madam, who allowed his husband to abuse her sexually, adding that and when she complained the woman would beat her up.
“I decided to run away and I think I am better off. I intend to start school from the money I saved from my business,” se said.

Housemaid for sale
Little Chidera, who looks barely six years old, told Saturday Sun that she came to Lagos to serve as a nanny. Chidera lives in the Ilaje notorious child slave camp of Lagos. When Saturday Sun spotted her, a year-old-baby was strapped to her back. Her sense of danger or security is not so developed, as to suspected our reporter or her intentions.

This young girl told Saturday Sun that she came to Lagos to be a baby sitter. Her master told our reporter he arranges for maids for anybody who is ready to pay. He revealed that it would be cheaper when he has a long time to arrange t than when the notice is short.
The man, who simply gave his name as Oko said: “Majority of the people living here are from Ebonyi State. This area is well known here as Anyakaogu, Izzi,” which implies an extension of a village with such name in Ebonyi.

“It is a starting point, where you can get an accommodation for as low as N1, 000 per month. We are like a family here. To get a good housemaid, you will pay as much as N20, 000,” he added.
Saturday Sun reporter had offered to pay him N50,000, for quick delivery. Seeing a business opportunity, the man asked if the reporter liked Chidera, as he would not mind giving her up. For the little girl, Oko collected a dude cheque of N20, 000. He was told that the balance would be paid the next day and the girl would be taken away.

Excited, Oko said if he had got all the money, he would not mind handing over the girl instantly. On whether he would not follow the reporter to know where Chidera was to be taken. He said that the girl was an orphan and her guardians gave her out for N2,000.
“No one wants to know how she is faring. Therefore, it is a plus for her to get a good and caring family to live with. If it is her destiny to survive and make it in life, I know she will surely come back to look for me and find her way home,” Oko declared.

Babies also for sale
A few yards from Oko’s shop, Saturday Sun reporter spotted another young man who sells foodstuff and explained to him her intentions. He immediately abandoned all his customers and dashed into the adjoining house. On his way back, some touts, in the close by the Ilaje garage, called him for a chat. He came back to explain that the boys were aware of our visit, hence the price of the housemaid might increase because the touts would get a fraction of the fee.

The atmosphere of the discussion changed, as a hefty looking man appeared. He introduced himself as Remi and advised that our reporter saw him privately. To draw his sympathy and influence the bargain, Saturday Sun reporter feigned sadness and she bust into tears, imploring Remi to do his best “as my home was at the point of collapse since I cannot bear a child for my husband.”

Probably convinced, Remi advised: “You and I know that it is illegal to adopt a child without the consent of the government. I know what you are going through madam because my sister also suffered the same fate. To convince you that I can help you, Uche will take you to a place where we have available babies but they are all girls. This is my office, when you return we can negotiate the fee.”
On getting close to the house, where babies were ‘displayed’ for sale, Uche requested, for security reasons, that the reporter dropped her bags at the gate. He said that the Alhaja who owns the house would ensure that nothing happened to the bags. He said that they take such measures because they had had cases with the police but pulled through because they were able to prove their innocence.

Inside the small room were two girls. One clutched a day-old baby and the other a week-old, both girls. Uche explained that the girls would leave the camp as soon as they get buyers for their babies. When payment is made, he said, the girls would get part of the money, while the rest would be shared between the person who brought the buyer and Alhaja, who accommodates the girls.
One of the girls, who introduced herself as Linda, told Saturday Sun that her master threw her out where she lived when they discovered she was pregnant.

“I came to Lagos three years ago, when I was 13 years, to serve as a housemaid in the home of a town’s man. I used to sell water for my madam and on my way back home one night some agbero raped me. I told my madam, but she told me that it was a way of life. My master started sleeping with me and offered me gifts. When I discovered that I was pregnant, I was driven away. With the little money I had, I started my sachet water business while I slept in my friends’ homes. It was then that I met one man who referred me to Alhaja,” she said.

When asked if she would be interested in the child, in future, Linda said that her initial plan was to dump the baby in front of a church but when she was told that she could make money to start life all over again by selling the ‘baby, she changed her plan.
“My child will fare better with whoever that will take her. I don’t want her to live my kind of life,” she said.

Asking price is N250,000
The bargaining began at an initial offer of N400, 000. Our reporter accepted to pay N200, 000. Uche, the middleman, said the baby won’t go for a dime less than N250, 000. He said that the business ends as soon as the agreed price is paid. He said something to the effect that the safety of the baby did not matter to them.
“Our business is to perfect the sale. We can’t kill the baby and don’t believe you the buyer will do that.
“We are used to all these things. Since we started this business, if you check very well dropping of children at the garbage or toilet has reduced. This is because we have given them hope that the baby can fetch them money to start life all over gain.”

Back at the Ilaje motor park, Remi accosted our reporter to know if she was satisfied with the babies on sale. The reporter, as decoy, told him that she would have preferred a baby boy. He promised to source for a baby boy.

“You will not regret doing business with us. If you have such problem again, please don’t fail to contact me,” Remi pleaded.

Checking the abuse

Ilaje baby factory
 

Despite the influx of these underage ones from Ebonyi, some human rights activists have made efforts to ensure that the appropriate authorities put a check on the illicit business. One of such persons is Evangelist Jacinta Nworie, leader, Christ Assurance Bible Ministry. She corroborated the report on the alarming rate at which indigenes of Ebonyi, especially from Akaeze, Ezza, Izzi and Abakaliki axis ‘sale’ their children into modern slavery. This exodus, she explained, is fuelled by poverty.

Citing some of her experiences, Nworie explained that her passion for her people, in this predicament, arose from her experience. She was a child at 10 when she was given out in marriage and had a child at about 13, only to be abandoned to fend for herself and the child. On her recovery from the abuse, she set up a body to liberate others found in such situation. She picks kids up on the highway, during school hours, and takes them to the police and sometimes to NAPTIP.

“There was a case where I picked up some children and took them home to the governor for rehabilitation. They promised to assist and I left the children with them; all they did was to send them back to their poverty-ridden parents. A few days later, I saw one of them in Lagos, in the traffic hawking. I was able to trace his abode to the slum at Ilaje. I discovered that the area is densely populated with people from the area.
“A man, who attended to me, told me that it was no news that Ebonyi people live here and have perfected making money for the adults. He said the people who bring them don’t have problem convincing their poor parents in the village to lease out their children. The boys would be sent to hawk, while the girls are given out to people as housemaid. I know that the government may not be aware of what is happening. The truth is that Ebonyi people are suffering in abject poverty.

Visit the Abalaliki rice mill and see underage children labouring to survive. They would pick the sawdust and sieve to get pieces of rice to survive. It is horrible, over there, hence the exodus to Lagos. I have done my best to assist and I must sincerely appreciate the Federal Government who gave me plots of land to build a foundation for these children. I am calling on well meaning Nigerians to assist develop this land, so that we could mop them up and better their lives. They do not have any means of education. The girls end up getting pregnant and the boys turn dreaded members of the society at the end of the day.

“I want to call on the governor of the state to see it as a matter of urgency to rescue these people who make up majority of the underage hawkers in the streets of Lagos.”

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Nigeria Railways back on track


Railway stations across the country used to be a one stop place where most commuters found solace in order to beat traffic on the road. After a while, the rail tracks got dry of trains and rather became a rendezvous for street urchins and highway hawkers. But, recently, there appears to be a renewed interest in bringing life back on the railway tracks in the country. BUKOLA BAKARE takes a look at the resurgence of the railway transport system in Nigeria, the inherent benefits and challenges that lie ahead.

It’s 6.45am in the morning in a highly populated suburb in the Lagos area and Christie Oma, (not real names) a trader and mother of three, struggles to get her family ready for the day. There are only two options before her: she could go through the road transport and get stuck in the heavy early day traffic of Lagos or go through the railway. The railway, she reasoned, was the most sensible option: it is cheaper and faster.

The railway would take her from Iddo to Oyingbo Main Market where she sells her wares. Failure to get to the train station before 7pm would mean that she would miss the train.

Christie’s case is not too different from a cross section of Nigerians who use the train which is one of the fastest means of transportation in a country that has more than 150million people.

In recent times, there has been an increase in the number of trains that ply various routes in the country.

Reports show that as at 2003, Nigeria’s rail system had 3,557 kilometres of track, 19 kilometres of which were the dual guage and the remainder, standard guage. The country has two major rail lines, one connects Lagos on the Bright of Benin and Nguru in the Northern state of Yobe State, while the other connects Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta and Maiduguri in the North eastern state of Borno.

In March, 2006, plans were on the way to establish a rail link between Nigeria and Niger but that was put on hold due to The International Court of Justice’s verdict in favour of Cameroon on the issue of the control of the Bakaasi Peninsula.

As this reporter takes a ride on the train from The Nigerian Railway Corporation Terminus in Iddo, it was evident that conscious efforts are being made to remedy the poor conditions, efficiency and profitability of the Corporation – the odds which marred its smooth operation in the past.

Commuters from the Iddo Terminus are mostly traders who are going to sell their wares across the metropolis.

Worthy of note are the coaches which are now improved and depending one’s choice, one can either ride in the economy class or business class; the latter is meant for high class people in the society who just want to pamper themselves.

The train stops at designated stations and each stop is about two minutes except in cases where cars and buses have to pass. In addition, the seats are more comfortable compared to what was obtainable in the past.

All these are an attestation that the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) will live up its mission statement, “to emerge as the leader in the Nigerian transport system, using well motivated work force with modern technology;’’ and its vision statement: “to be a world class rail transport organisation, providing safe, efficient, affordable, reliable and widely linked network and customer oriented services.”

According to Mr. John Dottie, a District Manager of the NRC, “traffic congestion which is the bane of the major roads within major roads in Lagos will reduce significantly as the Lagos District plans increase in the train frequency.

“From December 2010, Lagos District passenger trains have been increased from six to eleven daily using the recently rehabilitated up mainline.

“The first and second trains leave Ijoko and Agbado simultaneously by 5.30am to arrive Iddo by 6.45am/7.34am.

“Another one leaves Ijoko by 6.20am and arrives Iddo at 7.56am while two more trains leave Ijoko by 10.20am and 2.20am to arrive at 11.56am and 3.56pm respectively and from Iddo, five other trains depart from Ijoko at 8.00am, 12noon, 4.15pm, 5pm, 6pm and 7pm accordingly and each arrive Ijoko within a transit period of one hour, twenty minutes.”

Another observation on the train is that all kind of people are found in the coaches, from the low class to the highly placed, everyone in their own world and looking forward to getting to their respective destinations.

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CBN gives license to two firms to Move Money in Nigeria


THE Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), for some time now, has been churning out policies to straighten out the nation’s financial landscape. Its latest move in this direction saw the licensing of two firms as cash in transit and currency sorting companies.

 five years after mooting the idea, the bank has granted full registration status to two companies as cash-in-transit companies and approval in principle as currency sorting entities.
The approved companies are Integrated Cash Management Systems Limited and Bankers Warehouse Limited.
These companies will take to the dual duties of handling cash movement and currency-sorting operations, which the apex bank currently handles.
The Guardian learnt that this development could pave the way for the entrance of foreign firms with their Nigerian counterparts into the new sub-sector of the financial market, a development some have argued would create more jobs for Nigerians.

It was also learnt that when in full operation, the initiative would make it possible for banks to reduce the volume cash in their vaults at any time, thereby reducing their exposure to such risks as robberies.

According to the letter of approval to one of the two firms, the apex bank stated: “We are pleased to inform you that the CBN has granted the following for your company: full registration as a cash-in-transit company; approval-in principle as a currency sorting (processing) company for a period of 12 months from the date of this letter to enable your company meet the outstanding registration requirements which are as follows: commencement of currency sorting (processing) operation, and balance of paid-up capital of N2.9 billion.”

The letter, which was signed by Mohammed Nda, director, Currency Operation, CBN, added: “As soon as you are able to meet the outstanding requirements, you are required to apply for approval for full registration.

“Please note that in line with the policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria on the operation of registered service provider in cash handling industry, you are expected to submit monthly reports to the Director, Currency Operation department, Central Bank of Nigeria not later than 15th day of the following month on your activities, detailing the volume of banknotes evacuated and processed, customer and locational distribution of activities, stock of armoured vehicles and processing equipment and facilities, critical incident such as robbery attacks on bullion vehicles, loss of cash in transit, details of dispute between CIT companies and clients, accidents, pilferages, and other matters.”

Nda explained, “as part of oversight functions of the CBN, periodic on-site inspection of you facilities, process, structures, agreement with cargo and haulage companies, insurance and adequacy of systems deployed to mitigate risks will be carried by the bank.”

Speaking on the development, a banker, Olujimi Adeoye informed The Guardian that by relinquishing the dual role, the CBN was more professional in its duties.
He pointed out that apart from being a big relief to the CBN, other banks stood to benefit by partnering the licensed firms

Based on that, he revealed that almost all the banks were currently in talks with the new firms with a view to partnering them in this new venture.

Similarly, to drive down cash management cost in Nigerian banks, the Committee of Banks’ Head of Operation (CHBOs) are currently working on modalities of shared services platform in the industry.

A shared services platform is a situation where certain activities that involves cash management or any other non-core banking activity are jointly carried out by banks in a single platform.

Presently, all the banks carry out such activities individually, thereby incurring over-bloated overhead costs passed on to the banking public, hence the rise in banks’ lending rate.

A CBN source  pointed out that, the apex bank had to take the proactive measure of licensing two firms recently, namely; Integrated Cash Management Services Limited and Bankers Warehouse Limited to deal with the cash management challenge.

He revealed that the mandate given to the two firms captures the entire gamut of cash management, which comprises of currency processing, cash-in-transit operations and vault management.
The current practice in the Nigerian banking system is that in terms of currency sorting, this activity is done by the banks and the CBN, while in terms of cash-in transit operations, it is either managed by the banks or outsourced to cash-in-transit companies.

Similarly, in terms of vault management, hitherto, each bank maintains its vault, while any excess cash is lodged at the CBN.

Also, banks’ account with the apex bank, are credited only when the currency is processed.
However, he explained that, with the licensing of the two firms, CBN has officially disengaged from those services, and has mandated all the banks in the country to engage the services of any of the two firms or both.
The essence of the initiative, he said, is that with such unnecessary costs taken away from the banks, the gap between the lending rate and deposit rate will automatically reduce.

Corroborating the apex bank’s position, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Integrated Cash Management Services Limited, Stephan Botha in a chat with The Guardian, said that Nigerian banks expenditure on cash management is on the high side, adding that it is one of the main factor that creates a big gap between nation’s deposit rate and lending rate.
He explained that because the banks expend so much resources in certain non-core banking activities, they incur bloated overheads which they (banks) in turn pass on to the depositors, hence the high disparity between the two rates.
The solution to the problem, he said, is for Nigerian banks to come under a multi-bank shared services platform, and drop the lone-ranger attitude, so that overall, the cost of banking in the country will drop.
This, he said, will not only enhance the bank’s bottom lines but will impact positively on the lending rates and to the benefit of the economy.
He buttressed his point by stating that, the aggregate cost of cash operations for most banks in Nigeria is from 30 percent to 55 percent of total cost of operations.
Botha equally revealed that his firm’s (ICMS) research shows that all the big banks in Nigeria can save up to N1.2 billion per annum by just signing onto ICMS model of outsourced shared services for cash operations, noting that the medium sized banks can save up to N 800 million within the same period.
Based on that, he stressed that, cash management is a critical function for banks and requires a high level of logistics, thereby posing unique challenges.
These challenges, he pointed out, in form of adequate currency processing infrastructure requires the CBN and banks to invest heavily in machines and personnel.
Apart from that, he said that banks expend  resources to plan and move cash; a non-core banking activity, pointing out that, high value and volume of currency are maintained in vaults with consequent opportunity cost for holding idle cash.
This is because of the need to meet daily demands of depositors and the CBN’s inability to accept all lodgements in certain locations, he stated.
Meanwhile, according to Accenture Report for 2010 on Nigeria banks cash management costs, cash management costs are on the increase; and is projected to reach a value of over N2.8 billion in the next four years.
For instance, according to the report, in year 2009, the said cash management cost was N2.3 billion, increased to N2.4 billion in 2010, and is projected to hit N2.87 billion in year 2014.
It would be recalled that in April 2008, the CBN in a draft circulated to banks, for the establishment of the said companies, stipulated that, every cash-in-transit company operating in Nigeria should be duly registered with the CBN and should meet the following requirements:
The company shall be fully registered in Nigeria, and duly registered with the CBN; the paid-up capital shall not be less than N1 billion; promoters shall be institutions and members of the public with proven integrity and experience in financial services (evidence required); all promoters/directors shall present evidence of clearance from the relevant security agencies; evidence of insurance with a reputable company to cover the cash-in-transit and personnel; evidence of transport agreement with cargo airlines for bank note movements for long distances between cities serviced by airports and agreement with haulage companies for currency coins movement by roads; armoured vehicles shall have a six-sided minimum plate standard of not less than B3+ with separate compartments for currency and personnel and fitted with run-flat tyres. All the armoured vehicles shall be fitted with vehicle tracking systems to monitor the location and security of the movement vans; evidence of registration with the appropriate security agency; working agreement with the Nigerian Police to provide security back-up; and companies already operating cash-in-transit businesses in Nigeria shall be required to meet all criteria within 12 months of the release of the guidelines or cease operations.
As regards operational guidelines, the draft stipulated that the operators shall submit the following documents to the CBN before commencing operations and when charges are to be made to the existing operational guidelines:

Operational and procedural manuals, detailing processes from the receipt of orders to execution and full documentation on all transactions (record keeping); functions and responsibilities of the representatives of customers; and tariff for both intra and inter-city cash movements and for air and road movements.
The draft also prescribed that the operators shall submit proposals to mitigate risks arising from the following:
Operational risks that relate to exposure to losses occasioned by diversion of movement to areas not intended, accident, theft, non-compliance with security requirements, attack, inadequate controls, fire, information leakage, collusion, availability of surveillance systems, technical workshop, among others. All service providers should ensure adequate security and insurance of their premises, values and currency movements; reputational risks on how to ensure integrity and build confidence in the correctness of the currency being moved, efficiency of operations, obedience to traffic rules and regulations, respect for other road users and reduction in noise pollution caused by the blaring of sirens, satisfactory references on employees from reputable organisations and individuals, backed by adequate guarantee; and technology risk that concern ensuring the deployment of the appropriate armoured vehicles with the appropriate anti-ballistic properties, reducing the incidence of breakdown during movement operations, ensuring the safety of cash-in-transit after attack, among others.
Also, it states that operators shall submit monthly reports to CBN on their activities, detailing the volume of banknotes evacuated, customers and locational distribution of activities, stock of armoured vehicles, critical incidents such as robbery attacks on bullion vehicles, loss of cash-in-transit, details of dispute between CIT companies and clients, accidents and so on.
The CBN, it also requires, shall carry out periodic on-site inspection of facilities, processes, structures, agreements with cargo and haulage companies, insurance, adequacy of systems deployed to mitigate risks, among others.
In case of currency processing companies, the draft had noted that all companies, including deposit money banks, providing currency sorting services in Nigeria either for themselves or for customers or intending to do so, shall register with the CBN. It is expected that, as part of the development of the sub-sector, the companies will set up their management centres to take advantage of the economies of scale derivable from the collation of both cash-in-transit and currency sorting operations. In addition, the companies shall comply with the following registration, regulatory and supervisory guidelines.
As regard registration requirements, the company shall be incorporated in Nigeria, and duly registered with the CBN and the minimum paid-up capital shall not be less than N3 billion.
Promoters shall be institutions, with a track record in currency sorting and cash-in-transit operations, financial services, currency processing systems manufacture, sales and maintenance, and individuals with proven integrity (evidence required). While all promoters/directors shall present evidence of clearance from the relevant security agencies

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Nigerians abroad to establish N9bn car assembly plants


 

A group of Nigerians in the Diaspora have concluded plans to establish N9bn automobile assembly plants in the country under the patent called Zhope Automobiles.

The group is led by a professor of engineering systems and Director, Machining Research Centre, Faculty of Engineering Science and the Built Environment, London South Bank University, Prof. Emmanuel Ezugwu.

Displaying a model of a 15-seater air-conditioned bus at the premises of the National Automotive Council in Abuja, on Wednesday, Ezugwu said that the plants would manufacture and assemble made in Nigeria automobiles in the six geopolitical zones of the country.

He said, “This innovative project incorporates over 25 years, research and development experience in the area of advanced manufacturing technology for sustainable development.

“We are working with local resources on the ground to put forward a technology road map that will serve as a hub for vehicle export to other parts of West Arica.”

Speaking during the event, the Chairman, Zhope Automobiles, Mr. Marcel Ezenwoye, noted that the project would commence by the first quarter of 2011, adding that the plants had been structured to create about 14, 000 jobs in Nigeria.

He said, “There is a projection that not less than 4,000 jobs will be created on the line function and over 10,000 in ancillary related services centres.”

“The training policy of Zhope envisages the training of local engineers like the roadside mechanics, who will in turn train other middle level operators in Zhope automobile technology. For this reason, Zhope’s technical partners from Europe and China will come to Nigeria for the training and technical support.”

He noted that discussions were currently going on with the National Automotive Council for the domestication of Zhope brand in Nigeria.

Ezenwoye said, “We have a forecast of an average monthly sales of 100 number of buses and an annual gross of 1,200 number of buses. Zhope intends to initiate the KDK strategy with a view to reducing overall production cost per unit of the buses. Our target is to get up to 40-50 per cent local content to minimise importation by 2020 if we have the enabling environment for manufacturing.”

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Nigerian Remittance Market worth over $10bn annually


Pam Patsley, Chairman &Chief Executive Officer of Moneygram International, visited Nigeria recently as part of  efforts to gain a better understanding of the market, customers and different cultural practices.
In a chat with Princewill Ekwujuru and Moses Nosike,  she posits that money transaction volume has increased six times in the first quarter. Read on.

How long has MoneyGram been operating in Nigeria?

MoneyGram started operating in Nigeria in 1998 and has steadily expanded its network of well established and respectable banks.

Pam Patsley

 

What is your assessment of the Nigeria Remittance Market?

Information we have indicates that the Nigeria Remittance Market is worth over $10bn annually. We believe the market shrank a little in 2009, as a result of the global economic crisis and its effects on employment statistics for migrant workers in key corridors. With the easing of the financial crisis, especially in the US, we expect remittances to Nigeria will experience positive growth.

Our business has experienced good growth both in terms of number of transactions, value and our network. We have been able to achieve this modest growth thanks to the support of our agent banks. With new agents and additional network, we expect our business in Nigeria to grow tremendously in the coming years.

How significant is the First Bank launch of MoneyGram service? Will MoneyGram be signing any more agents in Nigeria?

We are happy to have signed on First Bank and to have the MoneyGram service delivered through an additional 500 First Bank locations nationwide. This will make the MoneyGram service more accessible and convenient to many more customers.

In many markets where we operate, any new agent brings in its wake increased transaction growth and we expect this to be the case with First Bank.

MoneyGram will continue to forge alliances with credible financial institutions as the laws of Nigeria allow to bring our services even closer to our customers. They are a few more agreements in the pipeline which should be concluded over the next couple of months.

What is MoneyGram doing in the area of fraud prevention in Nigeria?

MoneyGram has initiated key actions to combat fraud in Nigeria; Key amongst them are;
Successfully implemented the locking down of a transaction to the location that first viewed

Have added as compulsory a receiver questions for all our transactions in Nigeria to provide additional security
We continue to provide periodic compliance training for the compliance officers and product managers of all our agents.

MoneyGram’s Director of fraud from the U.S. visited Nigeria in April this year,, organizing workshops for all our agents in Nigeria and also meeting with enforcement agencies to presents MoneyGram’s anti-money laundering and compliance efforts

The Regional Compliance Manager for Africa  also visited Nigeria to meet with the EFCC (law enforcement agency) and the agents and present MoneyGram’s efforts on anti-money laundering and compliance generally. The feedback from both events has been very positive.

MoneyGram is also working with agents to restrict locations that pay out fraud induced transactions.
We continue to collaborate with key regulatory authorities i.e. Central Bank of Nigeria, Economic and Financial crimes commission (EFCC) and Special Fraud Unit (SFU).

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A New Football Culture is what Nigeria needs


Written by Henry Kester Ewruje

Ninety minutes on a football pitch can make a world of a difference. That the Super Eagles did not qualify from the group stage of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa is like a nightmare for most Nigerians. Football fans that have been looking over their shoulders since the match against Greece in Bloemfontein are now depressed as Nigeria ended the group matches with a 2 – 2 draw with South Korea in Durban and did not qualify for the knockout stages.

What is wrong with the Super Eagles? Many things are wrong with football in Nigeria. In truth, the Super Eagles team has never been at its best in recent years. Not all the matches played by the team in the past four years have been vintage performance. The squad only exhibited a steely determination to prevent a massacre in their 0 – 1 loss to Argentina in Johannesburg with an outstanding performance from goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.

I talked to a hell of a lot of people. Managers, coaches, scouts, players and friends and what came back was uninanimous. They all felt that most of the players and Coach Lars Lagerback made mistakes in all their group matches. The technical ability of the Gaffer was tested in South Africa. He had to prove that his appointment was not a mistake. Personally, I doubted Lagerback’s ability to lead the Super Eagles to South Africa. He had nothing to offer because he was a spent force. He had not upgraded his coaching career in Sweden and failed to lead the Swedish national team to the world cup finals in South Africa which led to his resignation from the job showed that he was not the right coach and did not have the pedigree to take the Eagles to the next level in the world cup and beyond.

The gaffer failed technically and he adopted wrong tactics and formations in the three matches played. His starting line-ups were not the best. Not only that, in an apparent display of insufficient knowledge of the Nigerian players, he played some of the players out of their positions which affected the performance of the team. Most of the players had the reputation for shirking the grittier aspects of the game. The coach and the team made lots of mistakes. Even in the Pro Zone age of football where the coach’s team selections are influenced by the distance a player completes each game, there will always be no place for majority of the forwards he took to the world cup.

Nigeria is a country with a proud tradition of outstanding right wingers like Segun Odegbami, John Chidozie, Sam Okpodu, Tarila Okorowanta, Clement Temile, Dimeji Lawal, Pius Ikedia, Tijani Babaginda, Julius Aghahowa and Finidi George. However, the coach decided to field a player in the right wing whose lackadaisical style and a moment’s exhibition of madness earned him the red card and cost the team the match against Greece. Even the most creative elements of Lagerback’s side did not show any willingness to sacrifice themselves for the team. They could not ally graft to their craft.

.Now, the players are talking and complaining about Lagerback and his tactics as well as the playing time given to them. They are also complaining about the quality of players Largerback picked for the world cup. These same players had praised the coach after they played three friendly matches before the world cup. These players failed the nation and they are masters of the dark arts of media manipulation. These players are the delight of journalists. They are open mouths in search of a microphone. This a joke but nobody is laughing. The players to the South Africa 2010 world cup were not the best Nigeria can provide. Only the best players should don the nation’s colours in future competitions

So what is the way forward before the next world cup in Brazil in 2014?

I suggest that all the senior professionals in the Super Eagles who have been talking about throwing in the towel, should quit international football now. Most people might think that some of the senior pros are playing too well to retire from the national team. They might say this decision is a bit too hasty. But the players are big enough to be aware that they are taking a risk with football supporters because a few average performances will raise questions about their retirement from the national team.

The older players are the standard bearers. They are the ones that set the standard. The senior pros have to be the ones to show what it is all about and there is no better example than to quit now. The next world cup is in 2014. The younger players in the team should be groomed with new invitees to the Super Eagles to play in the next Nations Cup Competitions and then the world cup.

While people are taking the mickey out of some players, it is the Nigeria Football Federation, (NFF) that is mainly responsible for the problems of football and it needs a total overhaul. Every association has its values and at the moment, the NFF miss that. I think it is important for the nation’s football that the NFF should be overhauled because with the present players and coaches in the national team, we will never be a leading football country in the world in the coming years. Criticisms of the game are good for Nigerian football.

Presently, the NFF secretariat in Abuja must be littered with e-mails, faxes and letters from supporters who cover every generation. The message to the NFF is that they have failed the nation. The new chants on the streets are “give us a new NFF in the next elections”. Surely, the NFF cannot overlook the stream of correspondence. They should resign immediately and not wait until their elections in August, 2010. The NFF has failed to launch a bold plan to revolutionise the country’s football since they came to office. They have been unable to draw a strategic plan with enough concrete proposals to tackle the nation’s underachievement head-on. The plans of the NFF if any sound bland and boring. Their strategy lack obligatory buzzwords such as vision, purpose and values.

There is nothing uplifting and positive about the NFF with all its lies, deceits, crooked agents and absurd financial structure. The conduct and utterances of the NFF always send people laughing. While the zany twittering of the NFF is sending people into fits of giggles, I am not amused at the amateurishness that is rife in football coaching in Nigeria.

Amodu Shuaibu was sacked by the NFF as the coach of the Super Eagles for doing a commendable job by qualifying the team for the 2010 world cup and for winning bronze at the Nation’s Cup in Angola. He was accused of getting the results but not performing. This excuse was the cruellest joke. It will be recalled that millions of Nigerian football fans and other stake holders called for the removal of Coach Amodu. It would be remembered that the Presidential Task Force (PTF) recommended for Amodu’s sack and a sound foreign technical adviser to be employed. When Amodu was fired, the NFF sent people into reels of laughter by concluding the second-coming of former Super Eagles technical adviser, Frenchman Phillipe Troussier, whose most famous television documentary was how he spilled the blood of a hapless chicken in a bowl for his Burkina Faso players to lick ahead of a match.

The NFF is guilty of epitomizing triumph of style over substance. The NFF should be overhauled immediately. The new NFF should have an approved coaching qualification. Nigeria is the only major football country that does not have it. The new professionalism will spell the extinction of dinosaurs that prefer big talk to tactical awareness. They should launch a school for managers as part of plans to overhaul the game. Aspiring bosses should not be allowed to manage their clubs unless they have an NFF approved qualification. The important thing is to raise standards. Every other country has a mandatory coaching qualification. This scheme backed by the league managers association will also help the coaches get jobs abroad. Only Samson Siasia and Augustine Eguavon improve themselves by attending coaching courses and seminars abroad at their own expense.

Christian Chukwu failed technically during the France 1998 world cup qualifiers that the then captain of the team, Austin Okocha had to arrange coaching lessons for him under Sam Allardyce at Bolton Wanderers football club in England.

The new NFF should clamp down on agents by overseeing all transfer negotiations. Clubs should have their finances reviewed annually to make sure that all deals are above suspicion. Agents who cream millions of naira from the game should come under a bung-busting unit. Clubs should be required to tell the NFF where all the money in a transfer has gone and which agent is involved. Teams often get less than foreign clubs pay. But making all international and domestic transfers to go through the NFF will thwart such dodgy practices.

The new NFF should plan a radical shake-up of the games in the grassroots. A national football center should be opened. The quality of coaching in the soccer academies should be attacked and a professional women’s league set-up. Super clubs should be nurtured. A non-league club should have lots of sides of all ages under his wing. This will improve football at the community level and produce fantastic young players. The aim is to give the various national teams, the raw materials to be more successful. The hows, whys and wherefores should not be vague. Stakeholders should organize seminars and meetings for the NFF to go to, people to talk to and a new football culture to be introduced. The country’s youth development should be the envy of Africa. We already see the benefits of soccer academies and the youth teams of some organizations and clubs in the country.

This should be a wake-up call for an association that has been standing still. The NFF should not rest until there is a fundamental overhaul of the game. Nigerians are waiting.

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