Over 300 children living with high lead level in their blood and needs urgent medical treatment
We are highly shocked over the Federal Government inability to announce a specific date when remediation of Shikira will commence one year after the LEAD contamination that ravened the small rural mining community located in Rafi LGA in Niger State. And this is even more worrisome considering the fact that the Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed recently visited the area and declared it a national disaster.
It is noteworthy to highlight here that the minister during one of her meetings with civil society bodies and other relevant stakeholders in the sector disclosed that the sum of N300 million has been included in the 2016 budget for clear-up of the contaminated site, but the truth is that time is running out as the rainy season has just begin and would disrupt the exercise and spread to other neighboring communities if remediation do not commence immediately.
Also, it is on record that Follow The Money team after discovering the epidemic in April 2015 alerted necessary pubic officials of the incident and called for urgent intervention to enable occupants of the community adapt to the ugly event that claimed 28 lives and infected over 300 children mostly those below five years old.
It is exciting that Doctors Without Borders, a specialized body that render humanitarian services has indicated interest to provide free health services but on the condition that the environment must first be cleared of any contaminant.
While we acknowledge the minister for the move demonstrated by visiting the impact site to assess the level of devastation, a sign that reinforces hope that work may begin soon, we are also very concern about when the funds would be released to commence the actual clean-up.
Furthermore, we want the government to be open, transparent and accountable on how the funds are expected to be utilized including a work plan specifying project timeline, data and concrete steps on execution of the exercise.
While we laud the Senate for swiftly passing a resolution compelling the Executive arm of government to urgently embark on total clean-up of Shikira following the outbreak, Follow The Money team is in addition calling the lawmakers who has recently committed to reviewing the 2007 Mining Act to ensure empowering artisanal and small scale miners so as to mitigate risks and ensure safety in mining practices in Nigeria.
We also want government to prosecute individuals who are out rightly reckless about their jobs and possibly put them behind detention to serve as deterrent to others and foster sanity in the system.
On our part as an organisation we will continue to pressure the government on the need to release the fund for the project and ensure that we provide the public with timely and accurate information of how the funds are been utilized to capture the voices of marginalized citizens.
Cheif Executive, CODE
Co-Founder, Follow The Money
Please feel free to contact me or my colleague Amina Mohammed for interview, more information or clarification (firstname.lastname@example.org or +2348033009722).
Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, who has been one of the major influencers of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) launched late last year in New Yok has reiterated her stance on SDGs once again at the inaugural town hall meeting tagged ‘Buharimeter’in Abuja yesterday.
Amina posited that the role environment plays in actualising each of these Global Goals (SDGs) cannot be overemphasised hence it’s important that all Nigerian citizens get involved in its implementations so as to accelerate and maximise its impacts on our nation’s overall economic growth. ‘We cannot leave everything for the government to do, Yes, Ministers are public servants and it is a privileged to be one, but things would only work perfectly if we can earn your cooperation and work together in achieving all these goals. She stated that this administration would ensure that its delivers on all its promises at addressing security issues, ensuring steady infrastructural development and revamping the economy.
The Minister, who had earlier visited the lead poisoning affected communities in Niger State like Shikira, mentioned that the emergency response to remediation of these communities would commence as soon as the fund for the remediation is approved by the Federal Government. “In collaboration with Ministry of Solid Minerals, we will commence the remediation of these affected communities in Niger State’ she alluded.
The Buharimeter Townhall Meeting was organised by Centre For Democracy and Development (CDD) aimed at assessing the one year in office of President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) government. The event had five federal Ministers in attendance namely: Lai Mohammed (Information and Culture), Babatunde Fashola (Power, Works, and Housing), Audu Ogbeh (Agriculture and Rural Development), Amina Mohammed (Environment), and Udo Udoma (Budget and National Planning).
In celebration of the world environment day, i choose to come up with this little write up, aside from hygiene. this is also a means advocating for safe, green and habitable environment
Five ways to avoid public urination in Nigeria.
I have always wondered why a well-dressed man, apparently driving in an expensive car, would pull up by the roadside, unzip his trousers and pull out his manhood to urinate.
The funny part is you see them using their hands to cover the side shaft of the manhood on both sides while the urine projects into the earth below.Thereby polluting the air, and killing our beautiful green plants . Some just bend their upper body backwards a bit, pushing their waist out while supporting it with their right hand and the other left holding the manhood. Some just pull down their pants and bend down.
Little did I know that ladies also urinate by the roadside, I freaked out when I saw a lady in Abuja around 2pm doing the same on top the the beautiful green grasses by the road side. She was dressed in her pink skirt and a blue top, she stood by the expressway, opened her legs while standing with her hands beneath the skirt.
From afar I watched the long urine gush out from between her legs. The sight of it got me so irritated and curious.The relief you often find on their faces suggest most people who urinate in the open, in public area, possibly have held the urine for so long and just couldn’t go an inch further with their heavy bladder.
For men, once they are done, they angle it to shake off the last drops before returning it back to their trousers. Sometimes, urine droplets lands on their hands, and even their trousers. Many would just go ahead and rub their hands on their trouser and then walk away. This is highly unhygienic.
Most women would stamp their feet on the ground twice for the last drop of urine to fall out then they clean with tissue papers or rinse through with water
Nature calls are sometimes difficult to cheat. But passing it out for the public to see is a no no, aesthetically and hygienically. More so it is highly not lady like for women to be seen squatting by the roadside to pass urine.
Avoiding public defecation is a huge challenge in Nigeria as most city planners do not provide for such emergencies. Many cities are without public toilets and restroom. But here are five simple things you can do to help you avoid being pressed in places you may not have access to toilets, and how to react if nature calls unexpectedly.
- Use the toilet before stepping out: This is very important to all of us.No matter where ever you are, once you know it’s time to step out from where you are ensure you use the toilet to pass out whatever it is from your body system.This should be done a second before you walk out of the door to your car.
- Self Discipline: This has got to to do with the mindset, once you can discipline yourself from every other thing, then you could discipline yourself from Urinating by the road side.
- Parental Upbringing: Growing up as a child, my teacher will tell me “Charity begins at home”. Parents should learn to teach their kids that Urinating by the roadside is wrong and they shall grow up with such training and of course pass it on to their own kids.
4.Make use of Eatery or Bank: Over time I have heard babes say they are shy of telling people they want to use the toilet,but really though we are all use the toilet no matter how classic we are. When you feel pressed walk into a bank or an eatery and head straight to gents or ladies and I can assure you,no one will stop to question.
- Make use of a secluded area: This will fall in place of when you can not locate a bank or an eatery. Once you get so pressed ensure you look for a well secluded corner where no one can see you but then again be conscious of secluded areas.
Let help save our plants in our environment. Happy environmental day all.
Leading Youth Organisations in Africa such as Connected Development (CODE) in Nigeria, Youth Environment Network (YEN) in Zambia as well as other youth organisation in Malawi, Zero Waste Centre for Africa and No Excuse in Slovenia have agreed to synergise in the fight to save our planet earth by signing up to promote ‘Project #SwitchBags’, a campaign on the ban on single-use of plastic bags in Zambia and Sub-Saharan Africa. The urge to synergise in saving our planet earth became imperative at the last Sustainaware Regional Partners Meetings (RPM-Africa) in Lusaka, Zambia. The meeting which was scheduled to be a two-day roundtable meeting on Global Partnership towards attaining speedy implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at various countries of Africa and other Europe, Asia and across the globe, which is part of the objectives Sustainaware seeks to achieve, gave African youths opportunity for dialogue on the action plan towards addressing myriad of challenges confronting the continent.
Project Coordinator for #SwitchBags, Luwi Nguluka while speaking during her presentation at the meeting said the campaign also seeks to educate people across the globe on the hazardous impacts of plastics waste (non bio degradable) to our immediate environment, with the intention to ultimately cause reduction in the use of plastics bags that are non-bio-degradable and encourage the use of biodegradable bags.
Tomaz Gorenc, Sustainaware Coordinator and Team Lead for No Excuse, a youth campaign organisation based in Slovenia, who applauded this initiative coming from young people in Africa said “the impacts of young people would never be felt until platforms and opportunities for global partnership such as Sustainaware are being made available to them”. He added that the Sustainaware project having being funded by the European Union (EU) has, in the last five years focused on how young people across the globe can be the agents of change within their various continents by providing solutions to emerging challenges in the 21st Century.
Hamzat Lawal during his presentation on SDGs
Billy Lombe, Founder and CEO of YEN said, YEN has since its inception single-handedly led several campaigns on environmental sustainability, Gender Equality and Human Rights issues in Zambia. “YEN has a mandate to mainstream Gender Equality and women empowerment in all programmes and projects”. He alluded further that YEN workds to uphold this mandate: facilitating inclusive development, catalysing the achievements of the SDGs.
Chief Executive, CODE, Hamzat Lawal who made an excellent presentation on SDGs highlighted the roles of the youths towards actualising each goal. He said the role of young people cannnot be overemphasised in the implementation of SDGs whether in Africa or Europe. “ it is our future and until we realize the need to work in partnership, we may never be able to achieve much” citing several impacts of Follow The Money and other CODE’s projects in Nigeria as major contributions any youth organisation could offer its country.
In commemorating this year World Environment Day, Connected Development has once again taken the lead in advocating for safe, green and habitable environment by organising tree planting event in some schools in Abuja. One of the beneficiary schools was Abuja Children Home in Karu, FCT which was also one of the schools that benefited from similar tree planting project put together by CODE in 2015. The event which was supported National Orientation Agency (NOA), having sent a representative to speak to students, also had in attendance, Hour With A Book representative, a project that seeks to promote the reading culture in Nigeria.
According to Dotun Roy, Programme Officer, CODE while educating the students on the importance of tree planting to human existence. “Climate Change is the major enemy of environment and we must endeavour to seek ways to fight and protect ourselves from the negative effect associated with it by planting more trees in order to create more shades and trap the CO2” He shared how planting more tress could help in mitigating the effects of climate change in Nigeria and parts of the world. These students, out of curiousity and inquisition asked several questions about climate change and its relation to soil erosion, flooding and global warming. “How can we solve the problem of erosion?” asked abdulmalik one of the curious students.
NOA Representative, Mrs Stella, who spoke to the students on how their attitude to their environment could either bring about either good or bad consequences on their health, education and their mental development, said the pupils should endeavours to inform their parents of how beneficial it could be for them to desist from those activities/practices that may compound the effects of climate change in Nigeria, such practices as indiscriminate cutting of trees, dumping of refuse in the waterways, canals and drainage, excessive use of generating sets and burning of used tyres.
Mr Ismaila, Coordinator, Hour With A Book, who donated “Climate of Change” a novel written on climate change to the students, expressed his concerned about the devastating effect of climate change in the country. “High temperature caused by excessive heat from sunlight is causing a lot of discomfort for people at night causing them sleepless nights and during day” He said this climatic condition is becoming unbearable for people particularly those living in the far Northern part of the country.
The event was concluded by planting of trees and naming each tree after few students for them to take ownership of the trees and give them proper care necessary for their survival.
The Senate on Thursday, June 2, urged the federal government to urgently approve and release the needed intervention funds from the ecological funds office for urgent remediation to help #saveshikira and affected communities.
In a three paragraph motion read by the Niger East senatorial district representative, David Umaru, the Senate called on the key federal government (ministry of health, solid minerals and environment) to re-mediate the environment and promote safer mining programmes for artisan miners.
The motion is titled: The urgent remediation of lead poisoning in Shikira community of Niger state.
Hence, the Senate also called on the Senate committee on solid minerals to review the 2007 mining act to reflect present realities in the sector as it affects local communities and artisan miners.
While-making contributions on #saveshikira, Umaru said the Senate is shocked at the survey result of the Federal Ministry of Health, confirming that 149 children who were under age five were tested for lead.
He added that the Senate is worried that environmental testing of residential buildings during the same survey indicated that there was a severe contamination of the environment.
“That early childhood exposure has been linked to violent criminal behavior later in the early adult life,It is therefore estimated that childhood lead exposure is costing developing countries 992 billion dollars annually due to reduction in IQ’s and earning potential according to a new study published recently,”he said
He noted that “The potential of lead poisoning to irrevocably inflict long term neurocognitive deficits on generations, there is need to urgently address this issue of national importance,
“This is a community that is already living below poverty line. All the children are already infected by this epidermic,” he said.
Also speaking , Shehu sanni representing Kaduna central senatorial district said the nation should work towards establishing a nuclear act.
“What the senate can do is to take the activities of illegal matters seriously. We have seen foreigners and Asians siphoning our resources. We should take an action that will address the problem,” he said.
There was a lead outbreak epidemic that recorded 65 cases in May 2015 in Rafi local government, which killed more than 28 children below the age of five. Many of which have died in Shikira village of Madaka district, Rafi local government area of Niger State.
The affected children suffered convulsion and weakness of limbs as medical examination proved that the children died from lead poising arising from illegal artisan gold mining activities in the area.