Global Handwashing Day:  CAMAC Takes Campaign to Motor Park, Market….. donates Handwashing Materials

By Habila Victor

As part of activities to commemorate the 2020 Global Handwashing Day, Center for Media Advocacy for Mother and Child (CAMAC), on Friday took it’s Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), campaign to Kantin Kwari Market and Motor Park in Kaduna.
During the campaign, CAMAC, also donated hand washing materials such as soaps, bucket, dustbin, detergent and disinfectant to the motor park and market to help in keeping their toilets clean and encourage them to keep a clean  environment.
Market women and female travelers had expressed dismay over the absence of such materials when a team from CAMAC, visited the motor park early last week to know how women friendly the motor park and market toilet is.
Global Handwashing Day is observed 15th October annually to foster and support a general culture of handwashing with soap in all societies. Shine a spotlight on the state of handwashing in each country and to raise awareness about the benefits of handwashing with soap.

Addressing the officials, members of the Motor Park and Market Women on Friday, Program Officer of CAMAC, Miss. Christina Alex, said there is need for not just a women friendly toilet in every public places, but also “period friendly toilets” for their menstrual hygiene whenever they are in public places.
According to her, “women and young girls can be at home during their monthly menstrual period if the toilet facilities in public places are suitable for them. And this can also save them of getting infected by some diseases we call toilet diseases.”
“There is need for extra hygiene especially for women in public places such as the Markets and Motor Parks, hence the need for us as an NGO to enlighten the public about the importance of hand washing to human health in the society.
“Women and girls needs period friendly toilets which must have clean water, soap and should be be clean all the time especially during menstruation.
“Girls may miss schools during their period due to lack of conducive toilets, women may also miss work and market because there is no adequate facilities put in place. And that has some effects on the economy and  education of the women and girls”.
“And that’s why we are here to enlighten you all, even though some of you are above the menstrual age but you have daughters at home who you can also educate”.
While commending the National Union of Road Transportation Workers (NURTW) for its efforts in maintaining and  managing the public toilets in the park, CAMAC’s Program Officer, stressed the need for the management to ensure frequent washing of the toilets and hand washing equipment are put in place.
Responding, the Secretary, NURTW, Kanti Kwari branch, Mallam Hussaini Buba expressed gratitude to CAMAC for the sensitization campaign to enlighten people on maintaining good hygiene in public places.
He however, urged the NGO to enlighten women on frequent washing of hands and to avoid putting money in their breast which he said can cause cancer.
CAMAC is a media advocacy group that focus on advocating for policies and programmes that favour vulnerable women, adolescent girls and children in areas of education, health, child’s rights, protection, development and survival, while also drawing the attention of government and other stakeholders to their plight, with the view to finding lasting solutions to their problem. As well as creating awareness and sensitizing the public on the above areas.

2020 World Food Day: CS-SUNN calls for prioritization of Nigeria’s food fortification agenda to address malnutrition

By Habila Victor, Kaduna.

A coalition of Nongovernmental Organizations known as CS-SUNN has called on governments at all levels to prioritize the food and nutrition needs of the poorest and most vulnerable households in Nigeria by expanding and improving emergency food assistance and social protection programmes.

This was contained in a statement signed by its Executive Secretary, Beatrice Eluaka, in their efforts to commemorate the “world food day 2020” with the theme; “Grow, Nourish, Sustain, Together. Our Actions, Our Future.”  

The NGO  urged the Nigerian Governments to prioritize nutrition in Nigeria by improving budgetary allocations, releasing and cash backing those allocations while ensuring transparency and accountability in use of funds directed at addressing malnutrition. 

“It is worrisome to note that the FAO had  reported that about 7 million Nigerians would experience food shortage between June and August this year. The FCT including 16 northern states (Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Gombe, Benue, Taraba, Katsina, Jigawa, Kano, Bauchi, Plateau, Kaduna, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara) were identified to face this crisis. Nigeria still has the highest burden of stunting in Africa and is still the second highest in the world next to India. The country’s current nationwide childhood under-nutrition indicator stands at 37% stunting, 7% wasting and 23% underweight (NDHS, 2018).”

“Worse still, the COVID-19 pandemic has made this year a challenging one as it largely undermined efforts towards attaining food and nutrition security for all Nigerians. It deepened the challenge of accessibility to safe and nutritious foods and saw malnutrition rates soaring in some states particularly among children.” 

“However, the development and implementation of Nigeria’s COVID-19 recovery plans, provides an array of opportunity to adopt innovative solutions to build back better and improve food systems, making them more resilient to emergencies.”, The statement reads.

CS-SUNN emphasized that Exclusive Breastfeeding particularly for infants in the first 6 months of life remains the best start that will provide infants with adequate nutrients and protect them against childhood killer diseases, adding that  food is the essence of life and preserving access to safe and nutritious food will continue to be an essential part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for poor and vulnerable communities, who are hit hardest by the pandemic.

The coalition further appealed with the Government to approve and implement the National Multisectoral Plan of Action for Nutrition to guarantee optimal nutritional status for Nigerians through accelerating the scaling up of priority high impact nutrition specific and nutrition sensitive interventions with focus on the most vulnerable, especially women, children and internally displaced persons.

To extend the current 4 months maternity leave for nursing mothers to 6 months to enable them exclusively to breastfeed their babies and prioritize Nigeria’s Food fortification agenda and ensure an Improved integration of fortification regulatory monitoring into overall food inspection system. This will go a long way in tackling the challenge of “hidden hunger” and micronutrient deficiencies in Nigeria.

And to promote climate-smart and environmentally friendly agricultural practices to preserve the Earth’s natural resources, health, and the climate while also slowing the habitat destruction that contributes to disease outbreak.

The NGO urges the private sector to respect national food safety regulations and measures to protect food and reinforce good hygienic and food safety practices along the food chains, especially in rural areas.

They encouraged Nigerians to increase their overall demand for nutritious food by choosing healthy, and not allowing sustainable habits fall by the wayside. Nigerians should choose to eat diverse and healthy diets as this will promote their health and wellbeing. 

Every year, the World Food Day is marked on the 16th October by over 150 countries including Nigeria. This commemoration promotes world-wide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and the need to ensure food and nutrition security for all.

Strike: FG to release N30bn earned allowances to ASUU

The Federal Government has agreed to release N30 billion as part payment of the Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

Sen. Chris Ngige. Minister of Labour and Employment said this at the end of a meeting between the Federal Government and ASUU on Friday in Abuja.

“The Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) was committed to release N30 billion on or before Nov. 6.

“The remaining N10 billion would be spread equally over the two tranches to be paid in May 2021 and February 2022 respectively. The OAGF should quickly conclude the verification of figures of EAA claims so as to clean up the figures from 2014 to 2020.

“To this end, a committee would be constituted by NUC to develop a template that would capture all the agreed allowances in the 2009 Agreement for all the Unions in the Universities.

“Thereafter, the OAGF and the National University Commission (NUC) are to quickly conclude the verification of the EAA figures, so as to defray the payment from 2014 to 2020. ASUU is to work with the OAGF and NUC to achieve that by the end of December,” he said.

He noted that the process of mainstreaming of the EAA into annual budget using the agreed formula shall be activated.

He also said that the NUC and Ministry of Education are to coordinate the activation process immediately and should be concluded by Nov. 6th.

Ngige added that the National Assembly has agreed to implement the process of mainstreaming provided the amount involved is sent in as quickly as possible by the Ministry of Education.

The minister also said that both parties agreed on the issue of funding for the revitalisation of public universities.

“In spite of the economic downturn as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, government have offer N20 billion payable by the end of January 2021, ” he said.

He said that ASUU also agreed to take the offer to its members for consideration and revert by Oct. 21.

“The Minister of Education will follow up with the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning on its earlier Memo to Mr President on sources of alternative funding for revitalisation to facilitate the process of additional funding of the University system.

“This is with a view to reactivating the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of 2013 as agreed in the Memorandum of Action (MoA) of 2019,” he said.

Ngige, however, said it was agreed that on the issue of Salary Shortfall that ASUU will confirm and report at the next meeting.

On the state universities, it was agreed that the NUC Act will be amended in order to strengthen its regulatory capacity.

It was agreed that ASUU will work with NUC on this and then involve the relevant Committee of the National Assembly.

He noted that on the payment of EAA to ASUU members at the University of Ilorin that the issue has been resolved.

Ngige however noted that the meeting was informed that the visitation panels to Federal Universities have been approved by Mr President, but they have not been gazetted.

He said that the Federal Ministry of Education is to ensure gazetting within two weeks on or before Oct. 29th.

“The meeting agreed that the Panel will be inaugurated latest by the end of November and the Panel will have a four to six weeks mandate to finish its work by Dec. 31st and submit two reports per university covering five years periods of 2011 – 2015 and 2016 – 2020,” he said.

Ngige also revealed that government renegotiating team would be reconstituted on or before Oct. 31, and the renegotiation will be concluded on or before Dec. 31.

On the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), the meeting was informed that ASUU has met its timeline regarding the first stage of the initial demonstration of the efficacy of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) to government.

The meeting also agreed that if UTAS passed all the integrity test, which involve the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), it would be adopted for the payment of the University staff.

Meanwhile the meeting could not agree on how payment would be done for ASUU members during the transitional period of UTAS tests.

It said that the government side again appealed to ASUU to enroll on IPPIS platform in view of the Presidential directive that all Federal Government employees should be paid via IPPIS.

It added that they can thereafter be migrated to UTAS whenever certified digitally efficient and effective with accompanying security coverage.

The ASUU maintained that given ASUU’s invention of UTAS, it should be exempted from IPPIS in the transition period.

Also on the issue of withheld salaries of ASUU members, the meeting agreed that Government will pay this money as soon as the mode of payment is agreed upon by both parties.

The meeting is to reconvene on Oct. 21 for ASUU to report back on the decision of her National Excecutive Counclil (NEC), in order to facilitate the calling off of their strike. (NAN)

Constitution Review: Nigeria battling to survive — Gbajabiamila

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep Femi Gbajabimila has declared that the country is in an intense battle for survival, as it contends with an avalanche of problems.

The Helmsman of the Green Chamber’s view was contained r, said in his remarks at the inauguration of the House of Representatives Special ad-hoc Committee on the review of the 1999 constitution (as amended).

He said “When you ask me what the state of our nation is, the honest answer is this: we are in a fight for the very survival of our country and the continuation of the Nigerian project.

“Recent global developments have exposed all our systemic weaknesses so that we can no longer pretend to ourselves that things are on an even keel and slow progress is enough to get us to where we ought to be yet are still so far away from”.

According to him, “We are commencing this constitutional review process at a time of great and ongoing upheaval in our country. New challenges emerge daily from every corner.

“Some of these challenges are of our own making, and others, we could not have foreseen or been prepared for. Whichever may be the case, the Nigerian people look up to us as a government to proffer solutions that work, to do the heavy lifting of writing new constitution, one better suited to our current aspirations and reflect our vision of the future”.

The speaker opined that “the answer to many of our development questions lies in the pages of a new Nigerian constitution. This 9th House of Representatives has since committed to the cause of reform. Our commitment must neither waver nor wane on the matter of thoughtful and fair overhaul of our nation’s constitution.

“The reality of our current circumstances and the now certain knowledge that only us can save ourselves imposes on us an obligation to act with greater determination and all the urgency this moment calls for” .

He assured that the House would take the issue of electoral reforms very seriously, adding that “overcoming our overwhelming national security challenges now requires of us all that we be willing to accept new approaches and consider novel ideas”.

He warned that “neither the security institutions nor political leaders can afford to hold on too tightly to a status quo whose frustrating limitations are painfully evident, whilst reflexively rejecting innovations that may improve our fortunes if properly implemented”.

In his welcome address, Deputy Speaker and chairman of the special committee on the review of the 1999 Constitution, Ahmed Idris Wase, disclosed that the House would consider the creation of states, state police, true federalism, local government and judicial autonomy in the review of the 1999 constitution.

He said “Let me start by stating that the need and importance of reviewing our extant constitution cannot be overemphasized as a vast majority of Nigerians consider the 1999 constitution a product of military exigency and that the reference to ‘We the people’ in the constitution does not truly represent them. Various political actors have therefore been advocating for a serious review.

According to the Deputy Speaker, “There have been several attempts to amend the 1999 Constitution, yet the agitations for a much more fundamental amendment have not stopped.

“This is because there are very critical aspects of our Constitution that touch on our continued existence as a strong, indivisible nation. Until these critical areas are resolved, we may continue to face clamor for a new Constitution.

“Therefore, in order to achieve the much-needed success by the 9th Assembly, there are pertinent areas that must be looked into. These are burning issues that have been left to burn for so long without giving them the much-needed attention”.

He said “The federal structure (true federalism), local government autonomy, state policing, state creation and judicial autonomy”.

He said, already over 15 constitution alteration bills have been referred to the committee touching on these broad thematic areas.

Wase observed that “Despite the fact that Nigeria prides herself as a ‘federal state’, it is sadly evident that it is far from what federalism entails.

“Some have stated that our federal system is more unitary than federalists especially with the number of items on the exclusive legislative list where the federal government regulates even simple items like primary education and agriculture. Hence, there has been clamour for more devolution of powers from the centre to the states in order to make states more viable and economically sustainable”

On local government, he said “As a third-tier government, all local governments are supposed to be Independent, However, we have not seen such independence in a long time.

Arguably, the framers of the 1999 Constitution, created a worrisome situation by giving validity to the existence of 3.162 (6), which prescribes the “State and local government joint account”.

On state police, the deputy speaker said “While internal security is of paramount importance, the concentration of the power of the police at the central government has created several policing challenges at the states.

“While some have advocated for the creation of state police, others have expressed worry on the possible abuse of such power by state governors.

“However, one thing that is clear is the need for us to take a second look at our internal security superstructure in order to make it work for our people and protect their lives and properties”.

Speaking on the agitation for state creation, he stated that “It is pertinent to note that the current 36 states of our federation were created via military decrees. Hence the true wishes and aspirations of the people were never considered in such creations.

“There is a need, therefore to examine the subject of state creation (and the associated constitutional rigours and difficulties surrounding it) in such manner as to reflect the wishes and aspirations of homogenous people in a democratic system”.

The ad hoc committee chairman noted that “The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) guarantees the independence of the judiciary in the country including state courts.

“Unfortunately, state courts (judiciary) in Nigeria and of course legislatures have over the years relied on the executive for their funding. This is clearly antithetical to the principle of separation of powers as guaranteed under the constitution”, he stated.

Kaduna govt to reopen schools on Oct 19

Kaduna State Government says all public and private schools in the state will reopen on Oct. 19.

The state Commissioner for Education, Dr Shehu Makarfi, made the disclosure to journalists on Thursday in Kaduna.

Makarfi said students of boarding schools would, however, resume on Oct. 18, while all other schools will resume on Oct. 19.

He said schools would operate morning and afternoon shifts, to provide adequate space for the students to observe social distancing.

“The resumption is for both public and private schools as well as all high institutions in the state.

“The resumption is going to be in batches, all JSS2 students, primary six students will also resume to sit for their various exams.

“The SS2 students will come back to sit for the exams that would enable them move to SS3 while the JS2 students will equally sit for exams that will move them to JS3.

“Primary six students will come back to write the exit exams that will move them to JS1.

“Adequate arrangements have been put in place in all the institutions,’’ commissioner said.

According to him, high institutions have been directed to also return students in stages and do blended learning for students in the schools.

The commissioner said the state government had provided infrared thermometer in boarding schools as well as wash hand points in all the schools.

“The boarding schools are going to have infrared thermometer, with a wall-mounted thermometer which will provide automatic temperature reading for students.”

He added that the state government would monitor the schools to ensure strict compliance to COVID-19 protocols.

“Once we found out that the arrangement we made was adequate, we would also invite the next batch of students to come and join their colleagues.

“This will be done gradually until we are able to absorb all the students back to classes,” he said.

The commissioner called on parents to provide additional face marks and hand sanitizers to their children.

He stressed the need for all principals to ensure compliance of social distance in schools, saying no classroom should have more than 20 students at a time.

“That is why we are encouraging blended learning where online learning and classroom contact is combined.

“We also encourage schools to go on shift learning. Some can come in the morning while others come in the afternoon so as to have adequate space and less time for contact by students.

“The state government also appeal to parents to safeguard the various means of transportation for their children from home to schools.

“We encourage parenst to use and arrange communal buses that will pick their children from their community to schools, this will assist in reducing community transmission of diseases,’’ he said.

The commissioner said the state government would have a meeting with the leadership of islamiyya schools to ensure they follow the protocols set out by the government.