SPECIAL REPORT: Kwara communities where pregnant women abandon health centres for herbalist, birth attendant

Kehinde Adebayo speaks boastfully of his traditional medical practice. His pride is rooted in the curious fact that Egosi and Odo-owa families seeking care for their pregnant women prefer him to the community health centres.

“Most times I take three deliveries in a night,” he told our correspondent. “I’ll handle one, my wife and eldest son will handle the two others.”

Mr Adebayo, aged and popularly called Baba Apiri, is described by residents as a “renowned herbalist” who specialises in child delivery.

Handling child delivery without any licence or any formal training in obstetrics, Mr Adebayo does not use hand gloves, he said, not even after attending a health seminar reportedly organised by the Oke-Ero Local Government Area of Kwara State in which Egosi and Odo-owa communities are located.

Justifying non-use of hand gloves, the old herbalist said, “There are times one needs to recite some incantations on the bare palm before touching the pregnant women’s private parts.”

So, in his own way, he exposes himself, the mother and the foetus or baby to risks of possible blood contamination that could have been prevented by hand gloves.

Apart from exposing himself to health risks, he also endangers his life alongside that of the pregnant woman and her baby as hand gloves are meant to prevent contamination of blood or body tissues.

Nevertheless, Mr Adebayo remains popular and well-patronised by residents who describe him as “a renowned herbalist.”

His popularity also grows due to the absence of what could have been a more professional alternative. The community health centres in Egosi and Odo-owa, like many in other parts of the country, are in deplorable conditions, lacking both human and material working resources.

But the state of the health centres in Egosi and Odo-owa has not made a hero in the old herbalist alone. There is also a heroine, a woman operating within the premises of Christ Apostolic Church in the town, just within a walking distance of one of the health centres. She is popularly called ‘Mummy’ but her real name is Janet Oyelowo.

Mummy told PREMIUM TIMES she has received training in midwifery. She is also limited in terms of manpower and facilities. She handles child delivery alone, except with the assistance of a friend and all she has got in her pharmaceutical box are anti-malaria drugs.

“When they come for deliveries like that, we test them for malaria parasite and we treat them,” she said. “That’s all.”

But when there are complications, she said her patients would be transferred to the general hospital, some nine kilometres from her house.

“By the Grace of God, we don’t usually have many complications,” she replied in response to a question on the referral statistics.

However, despite the dangerous gaps in the practices of Baba Apiri and mummy, the testimonies from residents of Egosi and Odo-Owa have been positive.

Morenikeji, a pregnant mother, explained how she gave birth to her current two children at Mrs Oyelowo’s residence without complications.

“This pregnancy will also be delivered at Mummy’s house,” she said, smiling as she touched her belly.

She and other residents spoke of the poor state of the health centres, and trust in Mummy, as reasons for not using them.

State Of Health Centres

During visits to four health centres in Oke-Ero local government, reports from the Community Health Officers (CHO) showed that most of the health centres had not recorded any child delivery for over three months.

Folashade Olokundu at Odo-Owa primary healthcare centre (PHC) pointed at the Church area when asked for the number of deliveries taken in the last three months.

“That’s where the pregnant women in this town visit. They go to the midwife (Mummy) over there.”

It is the same situation at Egosi, where the old herbalist resides. The CHO in-charge of Egosi clinic, Matthew Ajolaogun, attested to the boom of the herbalist’s business at the expense of the clinic.

“They’ve abandoned the clinic for the herbalist’s home close-by,” he said.

However, a simple review shows the clinics are in deplorable conditions. There is lack of health personnel, water facility and clean toilets in the health centres.

“The borehole outside is no longer functional. There is no water in the toilet,” Mrs Olokundu said.

During our visit, early April, just one health officer and two health officers reported for duty at Odo-Owa and Egosi PHCs respectively.

Moreover, added to the absence of necessary equipment, the health facility at Egosi is unkempt. On a tour of the centre, it was discovered that the rooms were dusty and dirty as a result of uncleanliness on the part of the officers. That negated the neatness expected in a health facility.

Uncompleted Buildings Used As Health Centres

Kajola and Iloffa health centres, established a year ago, are products of the agitations of residents of both communities in Oke-Oro. These health posts commenced health care delivery on the finances of the communities.

Residents said they were promised by the Oke-Oro Local Government Area, through the health department, that government will take over the centres by sending health personnel and providing drugs.

None of those promises were kept.

Both health facilities are substandard in comparison to the minimum requirements set by National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHDA) in 2017.

The building used in Kajola is an uncompleted one – yet to be plastered, without ceilings, windows and doors. Nuibat Sulu, who is in-charge of the centre, complained of the unavailability of drugs and necessary facilities.

“Even this uncompleted building is a rented one,” Ms Sulu disclosed.

That of Iloffa was donated by the king of the town. The limitation to quality healthcare dispensation in Iloffa is the lack of necessary equipment. According to the CHO, Mayowa Agboola; “The BP (blood pressure) apparatus is not okay and the only bed in the PHC was borrowed from the cottage hospital.”

The need for a good building and necessary medical equipment and facilities are what these health officers say will make their work better.

Health Director Speaks

At the Oke-Ero LGA, the health director, Motunrayo Ibrahim, blamed lack of finance for the poor state of the health centres in the logal government.

Mrs Ibrahim confirmed that none of the health centres has access to a good water source as well as basic medical facilities.

Like other local governments in the state, Oke-Ero is financially handicapped to respond to the needs in the health sector, the director said.

“The health centres in Kajola and Iloffa have not been in a good condition because the government only supplied insufficient health officers and not medical equipment and facilities,” she said.

Despite admitting the poor state of the health centres, she decried the activities of uncertified individuals, who parade themselves as birth attendants and handle child deliveries in their homes without a government permit.

She described people like Baba Apiri and Mummy as quacks who should be resisted by the communities.

“Even with the government’s efforts, it is left for the communities and residents to reject those quacks. Many patronise them and that’s risky,” she said.

On the claim of Baba Apiri of attending health seminars organised in the local government, Mrs Ibrahim denied such.

“No health seminar has been organised for birth attendants, talk less of quacks by the government,” she said.

On certification for willing traditional birth attendants, Mrs Ibrahim said, “Such person will have to tender his/her certificate, go through a test and we will issue a license of operations.”

Hope In The Way

The state of health centres in Oke-Oro is similar to those of other communities across Nigeria, investigations by PREMIUM TIMES have shown. Even some of the 109 health centres the federal government pledged to revitalise (one in each senatorial district) are still in bad situations.

To address some of these concerns, the National Assembly has, for the first time ever, included some funding for PHCs directly from the federal government’s budget.

Although not included in the 2018 budget proposal by President Muhammadu Buhari, the lawmakers earmarked N57.15 billion for the basic health care provision fund as mandated by the National Health Act, a law passed in 2014 but which has not been fully implemented.

Although the budget is yet to be signed into law, the move has been commended by experts in the health sector.

“For the first time, the Senate has put the Consolidated Health Care Fund on the budget. That one per cent will go into revamping the Primary Health Care system and the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS,” Francis Faduyile, the president of the Nigeria Medical Association said in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES.

A large part of the money is expected to go directly to many of the poorly funded and maintained health centres across the country.

“This is monumental. It is one of the greatest things that can happen in Nigeria. We believe this will change the trajectory of the country’s health system,” Mr Faduyile said.

Source: premiumtimesng

Northern, Southern elders forge common front to address poor governance

The Northern Elders Forum and the Southern Elders Forum have decided to set up another group to be known as the Nigerian Elders Forum (NEF) to address challenges confronting the country.

Addressing journalists after a three and half hours closed door meeting on Saturday in Abuja, the spokesman of both groups, Banji Akintoye, said the forum when established will “find a way to meet, study situations, provide solutions and make sure that the decisions have impact on the lives of the people.”

He said the country’s elders are worried, “that things are not well with our country”. He added that a lot was happening in the nation that “ordinarily should not happen.”

Aside Mr Akintoye, other elders at the meeting were Yime Sen, Yinka Odumakin, Alfred Mulade, Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele, Chris Anyanwu, Francis Doukpola, Chike Dike, Bello Suleiman, Ibrahim Lame and Bala Sani.

The meeting was also attended by Sam Nda-Isaiah; Idris Hayatudeen, Saidu Dansadau, Falalu Bello, Doyin Okupe, Yerima Shettima, Charles Nwekeaku, D. G Darah, Abdullahi Usman Toro, Rahila Gowon and Abdulrazaq Adamu among others.

The statement released by the group read in part:

“We are elders, we are not active politicians. Most of us are not active politicians. We have come together because we are worried about the condition of our country. Things are not well with our country. A lot of things are happening in our country that ordinarily should not happen. Ours is a land of promise, a land well-endowed by nature with a lot of wealth but we are not using the wealth to enrich our people. Instead, we are going down, down and down in terms of prosperity and progress.

“So, we have decided to work together – that is the most important thing because the problems are many. There is a general problem like the problems of ecology. The desert is moving South on upon us, upon our country and we are not doing anything about it. The ocean is moving in from the South, parts of Lagos already under sea level and we are not doing anything about it.”

“What we have decided is to set up, and this is the height of our decisions, to set up a Nigerian Elders Forum. The Nigerian Elders Forum that will establish its own means of meeting and study situation and provide solutions and make sure that the decisions have impact on the lives of our country. Those are the things we have decided today.”

Pointing out some of the problems facing the nation, the statement said parts of the South and South-south “has gone under sea”.

“There is the issue of erosion in the East, people now resort to killing each other and the nation lacks leadership. Parts of the South-south too already under the sea and we are not doing anything about it, and in the East, there is serious strange problem of gully erosion. Nobody seems to know what to do about it.

“And then, economy itself, we have become a country that is longer productive because lack of productivity is the big problem now of our country, and we have to do something about it. We also have this huge problem of poor governance. It is no longer a question of a party, it is no longer a question of one party is doing better than the other, you can see now clearly, even though our political parties are rarely no longer political parties, they are just neighbours or combination of people who want to gather together and win elections and control the wealth of the country,” the group added.

“That is what it has become, and the quality of leadership has fallen so drastically that it is not possible to have any progress in the hands of such poor leadership and then now we have reached a point at which where we are actually killing one another. People burning around killing their countrymen and destroying their livelihoods.

“So, we cannot go on like this, we elders of the country have decided that we cannot go on like this. We must change actions to change these things.”

Source: premiumtimesng

Democracy Day: Don’t bother addressing Nigerians, PDP Tells Buhari

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) not to address Nigerians on the occasion of the 2018 Democracy Day scheduled for Tuesday.

The PDP in a statement by its publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said “in the last three years, such addresses had contained deceits, falsifications and unfulfilled promises”.

Nigerians have become frustrated with these “lies,” said the party.

Democracy Day in Nigeria is usually celebrated yearly on May 29 to mark the restoration of democracy in May 1999 after decades of military interregnum.

Nigerian presidents usually use the occasion to enumerate the strides recorded in the democratic sojourn and achievements by their administrations.

But the oppositon party which lost to the ruling APC in 2015 advised Mr Buhari via its statement Sunday not to bother to use the occasion to “feed Nigerians with lies” over its percieved lack of achievements.

It said the Buhari Presidency and the APC since assuming power “has only violated all tenets of democracy, and trampled on citizens rights”.

The PDP said the APC should not be associated with democracy under any guise.

“Indeed, this administration should not come close to the emblem of democracy, as such would be an unpardonable spat on the faces of millions of suppressed Nigerians and the graves of victims of extra-judicial executions under this administration, as catalogued by international bodies including, Transparency International (TI), Amnesty International (AI) and even the United States Department of State.

“Where is democracy when government tends towards military fiat: where citizens are wantonly arrested, locked up and dehumanised just for expressing political opinions considered to be at variance with views held those in power?

“Where is democracy when our National Assembly, the very bastion of our democracy, is under siege; where federal lawmakers are daily blackmailed, hounded, harassed, intimidated, detained and dehumanised; where strange elements invade the hallowed chambers of the Senate, threatened our senators and forcefully cart away the mace, yet nobody has been prosecuted?

“Where is democracy when court judges are arrested in the middle of the night by agents of state; top government officials engage in actions and speeches that promote division, hatred and bloodletting; when journalists and media houses are being harassed and intimidated and our nation, in the last three years, ranking among the most hostile to free press?,” the party asked.

However the PDP saluted the courage and resilience of Nigerians in the face of “despotism, drive towards anarchy and totalitarianism”.

The party called on Nigerians to use this year’s democracy celebration to reinforce commitment to rescue the nation and “restore democratic rule”.

“We are collectively strengthened by the fact that this year’s Democracy Day signals the reinvigorating of that democratic march by the citizens to end APC’s misrule and abuse of our rights.

“Nigerians must therefore, use this year’s occasion to reinforce their commitment to rescue our nation by restoring democratic rule on the platform of the repositioned PDP, come 2019.”

Source: premiumtimesng

Presidency accuses Obasanjo of masterminding removal of five governors from office

The Buhari administration on Sunday stepped up its attacks against former President Olusegun Obasanjo, accusing him of masterminding illegal ouster of at least five governors in the 2000s.

Garba Shehu, a presidential spokesperson, said in a Sunday evening essay to PREMIUM TIMES that Mr Obasanjo’s tenure, 1999-2007, represented the dark days of Nigeria’s democracy due to a slew of assaults on the constitution.

He argued that President Muhammadu Buhari has painstaking followed the Nigerian constitution since he assumed office in 2015.

Mr Shehu accused the former president of deploying federal machinery to remove ex-governors Joshua Dariye, Rashidi Ladoja, Peter Obi, Chris Ngige and Ayo Fayose from office. The politicians were governors of Plateau, Oyo, Anambra, Anambra and Ekiti, respectively.

“When they ran the government at the centre, the opposition PDP showed aptitude in only one thing: the toppling of elected state governments using the police and secret service under their control,” Mr Shehu said.

He gave account of how Mr Obasanjo allegedly perpetrated the alleged constitutional infractions.

“A five-man legislature met at 6:00 am and “impeached” Governor Dariye in Plateau; 18 members out of 32 removed Governor Ladoja of Oyo from office; in Anambra, APGA’s Governor Obi was equally impeached at 5:00 a.m. by members who did not meet the two-thirds required by the constitution.

“His offence was that he refused to inflate the state’s budget. The lawmakers had reportedly met with representatives of the President in Asaba , Delta State and then  accompanied to Awka by heavy security provided by the police Mobile Unit. The PDP President at that time had reportedly told Obi to forget re-election in 2007 if he did not join the PDP because he (the President) would not support a non-PDP member.

“In Ekiti, Governor Fayose in his first term faced allegations of financial corruption and murder. Following the failure to heed the instruction of the presidency to impeach only Fayose and spare the deputy, Madam Olujimi, now a senator, the PDP President declared that there was a breakdown of law and order in the state and  declared a state of emergency.

“He appointed Brig-Gen. Adetunji Olurin (rtd) as the sole administrator of the state on October 19, 2006. In an earlier incident in Anambra, it took an insider collaboration to thwart the unseating of Governor Ngige by a powerful thug sponsored by the PDP administration.

“The parliament at the centre seized the law-making powers of the Rivers State House of Assembly as a way to save Governor Rotimi Amaechi, the then chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum from impeachment by the PDP presidency. Thank God for Buhari, none of these absurdities has happened under his watch but the PDP is indicating their boredom with his meticulous observance of the constitution by calling for a return to the old order,” the spokesperson said.

Mr Shehu condemned the PDP, despite its own history, for having the effrontery to write to the UN with allegations of constitutional breaches against Mr Buhari.

“I not for “dry eyes,” as said in our common parlance, what is it that would push this party to write a letter to the United Nations, laying false claims to constitutionality and alleging that democracy is presently under threat?” Mr Shehu said.

Mr Shehu’s statement marks the latest attack in the escalating political feud between his principal and Mr Obasanjo. Last week, Mr Buhari accused Mr Obasanjo of squandering $16 billion earmarked for power projects without noticeable impact.

Mr Obasanjo fired back at the president, describing him as “ignorant” for accusing him over a matter for which he had been repeatedly cleared by several investigative panels.

The face-off stemmed from an open letter written by Mr Obasanjo in January, warning Mr Buhari not to run for re-election in 2019 or risk being disgraced out of office.

The president has rejected all calls for him to stand down in 2019 largely due to his failing health, including those from former military ruler Ibrahim Babangida. He had spent more than 172 days receiving medical treatment abroad, a record for any Nigerian president in history, according to the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, ICIR.

A spokesperson for Mr Obasanjo did not immediately return PREMIUM TIMES’ requests for comments.

The PDP dismissed Mr Shehu’s statement as a distraction that will end up working against his principal’s interest.

“All these assaults and blame games on past leaders will not help them to win re-election in 2019,” the opposition party’s spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, told PREMIUM TIMES by telephone Sunday night.

He wondered when the Buhari administration suddenly woke up to the reality of alleged transgressions on the party of Mr Obasanjo, a man they had courted since 2015 when then-candidate Buhari first sought his support to win.

Mr Obasanjo supported Mr Buhari’s campaign in 2015, using several political attacks to weaken then-incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.

“As at May 2017, what was their position on President Obasanjo?” Mr Ologbondiyan asked rhetorically.

Mr Obasanjo left the PDP in 2014 and has continued to dissociate himself from the opposition party.

He cited Mr Buhari’s circumvention of National Assembly in the purchase of military aircraft earlier this year as one of the president’s blatant disregard for the Constitution.

“President Buhari has acted in several ways that portray our democracy like a military regime,” Mr Ologbondiyan said. “He paid for the super tucanos without the approval of the National Assembly.”

“Only a few days ago, he boasted that if he had his way, he will lock all the politicians in jail,” that is a statement that is clearly anti-democratic. “In a democratic system, an accused person is innocent until proven guilty.”

Source: premiumtimesng

Buharimeter: Nigerians rate Buhari low on corruption, security, economy – Poll

Despite scoring itself high on its achievements in the past three years, a new poll conducted ‘amongst 4,000 Nigerians’ has rated President Muhammadu Buhari’s performance below average.

Last Friday, the presidency in a document made available to PREMIUM TIMES scored Mr Buhari’s government high on economy, infrastructure, investment in people, among others.

But according to the new poll, Mr Buhari failed Nigerians in his three cardinal campaign promises: Corruption, Security and Economy.

The assessment of the president is a yearly activity in commemoration of Nigeria’s Democracy Day on May 29.

After 16 years of rule by a party which accused of massive corruption and failing to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency, Nigerians had enough of the erstwhile ruling Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) which they voted out of power in 2015..

Nigerians voted the All Progressive Congress (APC) in with a hefty majority, bringing about the first democratic power transfer between parties at the federal level in the country’s history.

After three years in office, Nigerians, according to the poll, are saying the Buhari-led administration has not lived up to those promises, the report showed.

The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) launched ‘Buharimeter’ to track the delivery of President Buhari’s campaign promises to Nigerians.

According to CDD, this year’s poll was conducted in May by telephone amongst 4,000 respondents across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

The poll revealed that 40 per cent of Nigerians approve of the president’s performance while 44 percent disapprove with the remaining 16 per cent neither approving nor disapproving his performance.

“This implies that the president is rated below average by Nigerians. The president’s approval rating of 40 per cent marks a decline of 17 per cent from 57 per cent rating recorded in the 2017 Buharimeter National Survey,” it said.

The survey further revealed that the federal government received ratings below average on the three cardinal campaign promises – Corruption, Security and Economy.

About 67 per cent of respondents rated poorly, the president’s performance on economy, a setback to the 39 per cent of respondents who rated his economic performance as poor in 2017, the poll indicated.

“This is notwithstanding the country’s economic recovery arising from the increase in her Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and a decrease in inflationary rate.”

According to the survey, 57 per cent of sampled Nigerians rated the president’s performance as poor in the fight against corruption.

On security, the poll revealed that only 21 per cent of sampled Nigerians rated the government’s performance as good while 24 per cent and 55 per cent rated it as fair and poor respectively.

Also, regarding sectoral performance, the effectiveness of President Buhari’s administration was also rated poorly across six sectors including Electricity, Education, Housing, Oil and Gas, Transportation and Health.

However, the current administration’s effectiveness on the agricultural sector was rated fairly; recording the highest average score.

Finally, the poll revealed that radio and television are the primary sources of information on government activities to Nigerians.

Buharimeter is an independent monitoring tool that enables Nigerians, scholars and political analysts around the globe to evaluate the implementation of the campaign promises of President Buhari and his party made in the prelude to the 2015 general elections.

Source: premiumtimesng