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FG Laments Disinterest in Hand Washing After COVID-19 Epidemic

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FG Laments Disinterest in Hand Washing After COVID-19 Epidemic

By: Michael Mike

The federal government has lamented that many structures put in place, especially the culture of hand washing during the COVID-19 epidemic has not be sustained.

Speaking at the celebration of the Global Hand Washing Day in Abuja, the Deputy Director, Sport and Health Department, Ministry of Education, Akinba Omolewa said: “With what we experienced, one would have expected that after the COVID-19 experience that this hand washing should have continued, but we see that all the structures that were kept during the time has been dismantled.”

She disclosed that the ministry is fully committed to this programme because it has to do with the Nigeria children, noting that: “Though parents are teaching their children to wash their hands but once they get to school, the teacher in the classroom have to take the task of reinforcing the importance of students washing their hands regularly to prevent them from diseases like cholera, respiratory diseases and others”.

She said “the education ministry is trying by all means to sensitize both teachers and students. On their health grounds that they should learn how to keep the environment clean, and wash their hands regularly”.

In his remarks the Director, Pollution Control and Environmental Health Department, Ministry of Environment, Olubunmi Olusayan said: “We are dedicated to promote awareness and understanding of the importance of hand washing as an effective and affordable ways of preventing diseases and to save lives.

“In other to kick start this year event , we started with our children, true to the fact that children as we know are agent of change. Once you imbibed the principle of hand washing, we can be sure that it will spread and that is why today we are happy to bring our children from selected schools in Abuja, first of all, to assess their knowledge of the importance of washing, to assess when do they need to wash their hands in acceptable way that will lead to disease prevention”.

This year’s Global Hand washing Day is themed “Clean hands are within reach”. The campaign says, “Through strong leadership and collective efforts, we can close gaps in access and practice to achieve hand hygiene for all. Everyone has a role to play to ensure clean hands are within reach.”

FG Laments Disinterest in Hand Washing After COVID-19 Epidemic

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VP Shettima Receives New Board of Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission

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VP Shettima Receives New Board of Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission

  • Charges members on steadfastness, devotion to duty

By: Our Reporter

Vice President Kashim Shettima has asked the newly appointed Board of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission (NCPC) to demonstrate unwavering devotion to duty.

Addressing the delegation who came on a courtesy visit in the Presidential Villa, VP Shettima reminded the board members of the importance of religious commitment in addressing the challenges facing the nation.

The Vice President also acknowledged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s positive impact on the nation, attributing the President’s success to divine blessings and purity of his heart.

He stated: “The road that led us to the Tinubu Presidency did not happen by chance. This is a man whose trajectory is characterized by making sacrifices for the good of the nation.”

Highlighting Tinubu’s role as a sanctuary for victims of political persecution, VP Shettima said the need for leaders to invest in building bridges can never be wished away, noting President Tinubu’s contributions in providing an alternative platform for the Nigerian political system.

“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu made sacrifices and built bridges. He was a veritable sanctuary for victims of political witch hunts. When other governors were struggling to have a seat at the dining table with Obasanjo way back then, he provided an alternative platform for the Nigerian political system,” the Vice President said.

Addressing the appointed board members, Shettima said, “All of you here were picked because of your religious devotion. We cannot condone what is taking place in the system. We must all strive to make a positive impact to attain the Nigeria of our dreams.”

Earlier, the Executive Secretary of NCPC, Bishop Stephen Adegbite, expressed gratitude to President Tinubu for the opportunity to serve on the board.

He also commended the Vice President’s exceptional leadership, recounting instances of support for the church and efforts to foster peace and harmony in Borno State.

“Your antecedent and what we have known about you are immense. When we came to Maiduguri, Borno State, I was the Director of National Issues and Social Welfare at the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). The then CAN chairman in Borno State said to us that they have an exceptional governor, who supported Christians and rebuilt churches destroyed by Boko Haram,” he said.

He added that Vice President Shettima stood with the Church and ensured that there was peace and harmony in the church in Nigeria and with people of other faiths.

Bishop Adegbite also noted that the commission’s role goes beyond pilgrimage as it extends to the duty of ensuring a harmonious environment for the nation.

“For us as a commission, our assignment is beyond pilgrimage. It is our duty and responsibility to ensure that we have a harmonious environment for our nation, to build bridges and ensure that there is peace and harmony in Nigeria,” he stated.

VP Shettima Receives New Board of Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission

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EU, IIDEA engage commissioners of women affairs on gender equality, rights

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EU, IIDEA engage commissioners of women affairs on gender equality, rights

By: Michael Mike

In a bid to advance gender equality and rights in Nigeria, the European Union (EU), in partnership with the International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IIDEA) and the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, has launched a collaborative initiative by organising a two-day conference tailored for state Commissoners of Women Affairs and their Permanent Secretaries.

Laolu Olawumi, the European Union’s Programme Manager on Democracy, Rule of Law and Gender highlighted that the event aims to provide Commissioners of Women Affairs and their Permanent Secretaries with the technical support needed to address and tackle issues affecting women, children, and other vulnerable groups nationwide. Set against the backdrop of International Women’s Day 2024, the conference marks a significant step towards achieving this year’s theme, “Inspire Inclusion.”

Olawumi elaborated that the conference’s structure is designed to furnish Commissioners with the tools required to effectively confront and resolve rights issues. Moreover, the event serves as a knowledge-sharing forum beyond its primary role of offering technical assistance.

Olawumi added that the EU’s support includes ensuring that planning, budgeting, and implementation processes are inclusive. This strategy promotes the full participation of women, children, and persons with disabilities, integrating inclusivity into governance and societal development.

Under the leadership of the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, the conference fostered a meaningful exchange of insights and strategies among state Women’s Affairs Commissioners, bolstering their ability to advocate for gender equality within their jurisdictions.

The event is part of the recently inaugurated second phase of the European Union’s Support to the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC II) programme implemented by IIDEA and based on the achievements of its preceding phase. At the programme launch, EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ambassador Samuela Isopi, stated the necessity of a second RoLAC phase to sustain the momentum and continue the EU’s efforts in supporting the Nigerian governments objective of
Of strengthening the rule of law in Nigeria. “It was clear to the European Union that a second phase of the RoLAC was essential to consolidate the progress and continue the commendable work done on enhancing the rule of law in Nigeria,” Ambassador Samuela Isopi remarked during the launch.

Speaking at the conference, the Imo State Commissioner for Women Affairs, Lady Nkechinyere Ugwu, expressed the significance of the conference, stating, “This conference, courtesy of the EU, is very important to us, as it gives us an opportunity to come together, share experiences, and develop practicable solutions for our work, which focuses on human rights and the protection of vulnerable populations.”

Adding to the discourse, the Commissioner of Women Affairs for Abia State, Mrs. Ngozi Blessing Felix, shared her thoughts: “This gathering is a cornerstone for us in Abia State to forge stronger collaborations and innovate on policies that directly impact the lives of women and children. It is an invaluable platform for learning and exchanging ideas that can be transformed into actionable strategies for gender equality and the empowerment of the most vulnerable in our society.”

Through the conference, the EU aims to empower state ministries of women affairs to develop and implement comprehensive strategies that support their mission and mandate. Additionally, the initiative seeks to build the capacity of state Commissioners and Permanent Secretaries for Women Affairs, enabling them to act as visible and effective advocates for policy, advocacy, and action on rights-based issues concerning women, children, and persons with disabilities.

EU, IIDEA engage commissioners of women affairs on gender equality, rights

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To Protect Everyone’s Health, Protect Everyone’s Rights – Leopold Zekeng

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To Protect Everyone’s Health, Protect Everyone’s Rights – Leopold Zekeng

By: Michael Mike

The enactment of Nigeria’s HIV/AIDS Anti-Discrimination Act – a national law hinged on the protection of the rights of people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS from discrimination based on their HIV status, is indeed progressive. However, to date, only about 18 states in Nigeria have domesticated the Act.
Evidence from the Nigeria PLHIV Stigma Index Survey revealed that 24.5% of adults aged 35-44 and 21.7% of young adults aged 18-24 have experienced stigma and discrimination. In some instances, key populations in Nigeria have experienced discrimination, violent law enforcement practices, arrests and other forms of human rights violations. Violence and discrimination against women and girls also remain pervasive. These violations often shove persons living with HIV and key populations to the margins of society, denying them access to life-saving health and social services, including HIV services.
Globally, 38 countries have pledged to end HIV-related stigma and discrimination through the Global Partnership for Action to Eliminate all Forms of HIV-Related Stigma and Discrimination (Global Partnership). These are hard-fought gains. Nonetheless, Nigeria is yet to formally join the Global Partnership.
However, the unwavering commitments and investments by stakeholders including the Nigerian government, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), UNAIDS, Global Fund, United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and other partners, have been instrumental in catalyzing progress towards ending stigma and discrimination in Nigeria. Communities of persons living with HIV have also been at the frontline of combatting stigma and discrimination. Recently, the Community of Practice to address HIV-related stigma and discrimination in Nigeria was launched by the Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), Association of Women Living with HIV in Nigeria (ASWHAN) & Association of Young People living with HIV in Nigeria (APYIN). The platform seeks to facilitate capacity strengthening, exchange of best practices and promote synergy amongst stakeholders in addressing stigma and discrimination in health care, education, workplace, justice systems, communities, emergency and humanitarian settings.
When marginalized communities are criminalized or stigmatized, their vulnerability to HIV infection increases, and their access to HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support services is obstructed. Countries that are beating the AIDS epidemic are doing so by repealing laws and policies that discriminate, by expanding human rights for all and by allowing marginalized communities to lead the response.
Public health is undermined when laws, policies, practices or norms enshrine punishment, discrimination or stigma for people because they are women, key populations, or persons living with HIV. Discrimination obstructs HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care, and holds back progress towards the end of AIDS.
We have hope, however, from communities on the frontlines. As Dr. Martin Luther King noted, “Social progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of people.” It is the communities most affected by discrimination that are leading the pushback against the erosion of their right to health, against the right to life. They are uniting their efforts to protect and advance human rights. They need, and deserve, all our support. The rights path strengthens entire societies, making them better equipped to deal with the challenges we face today and those that are emerging.
The right to non-discrimination as guaranteed under Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant human rights treaties and standards, is the cornerstone of international human rights law. Having ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other relevant treaties, the Nigerian government has an obligation to ensure that national laws and policies do not discriminate against people and that all persons including persons living with HIV are protected against such discrimination by third parties.
Furthermore, the Global Aids Strategy requires that all countries including Nigeria create an enabling legal environment by removing punitive laws, introducing and enforcing protective legislations and policies, and eradicating the abuse of criminal and general laws to target people living with HIV and key populations.
Discrimination against anyone is harmful to the health of everyone. For Nigeria to deliver on the promise to end AIDS by 2030, action is urgently needed to advance the protection of the human rights of everyone, everywhere. The Zero Discrimination Day, celebrated around the world every 1 March, presents an opportunity for Nigeria to strengthen its commitment through ensuring the domestication and effective implementation of the HIV/AIDS Anti-Discrimination Act in all states across Nigeria, formally joining the Global Partnership, committing to take actions on HIV-related stigma and discrimination across all six settings; and letting communities lead in addressing stigma and discrimination.
Dr Leopold Zekeng, UNAIDS Nigeria Country Director, writes from Abuja.

To Protect Everyone’s Health, Protect Everyone’s Rights – Leopold Zekeng

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