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May 22, 20201500

Opinion: Ayade, The Cry, Cry Baby In Peregrino House

 By Agba Jalingo

Yesterday, my governor, Senator Ben Ayade cried AGAIN while launching the anti-taxation agency in Calabar. The agency is meant to ensure low income earners do not pay taxes in Cross River state. His tears actually touched a soft chord in the minds of many people across the country and several of them have circulated the video back to me. One person who is  not even in Cross River state said, their earlier scheduled meeting started with the video where governor Ayade was crying and most people in the meeting also started crying along with the governor whom they concluded is a lover of the poor and this is very impressive.
But if tears were a true measure of our pain, even Hitler’s drops would be preserved in the alabaster bottle. That is the irony and the double edged nature of that readily available liquid. Once emotions are evoked, in no direction essentially, tears can start flowing and oftentimes, the person whose tears flow down the cheeks, doesn’t even know why they flow until composure is regained.
So tears are not necessarily an expression of concern, rather, tears can fittingly be described as the defecation of pent up emotions which could also be spontaneous. Tears could also be a pontilitous attempt at hood winking the unsuspecting public into collective amnesia, particularly for politicians.
The later is where I will categorize the incessant tears of our governor, Senator Ben Ayade and I will tell you why.
Apart from the poorly substantiated tales of his crying for the poor before his coming into politics, yesterday was the fourth time governor Ayade will be crying in public. But guess what, each time he cried, nothing followed!
Before you get hoodwinked by yesterday’s tears, let me take you down memory lane.
17 January 2017, Governor Ayade announced the abolition of all forms of taxation for low-income earners in Cross River state. The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor and Senior Special Assistant Media, Mr. Christian Ita, in a press statement said those affected by the tax exemption are people earning below N50, 000 monthly, taxi, tricycle, wheel barrows, and motor cycle operators as well as petty traders and hoteliers.
He said Governor Ben Ayade, who gave the order after signing the 2017 appropriation bill of N707 billion, had reiterated the need to provide some economic reliefs to low income earners in the state with regards to taxes.
Ayade, after signing the budget had warned that: “I am sounding the last warning that henceforth I don’t want to hear anyone who earns less than N50, 000 a month being taxed in any form in the state….In the same vein, I don’t want to see a hotel that is struggling to survive with challenges of diesels being chased by government officials over taxes. I have warned anybody, who is still collecting money from these people to stop forthwith…I have seen poverty in my personal life and I know what that small N2, 000 means to them.
“It is clear to emphasise here that at this point, no nation, no state and no administrative authority can tax her people to prosperity…God has given us an elevated platform of authority to use our intellects and support them and not to suppress them. Why would government put a burden on people earning less than a N1, 000 a day with wife and children, shopping in the same market with the rich, who earn over N300, 000 monthly? I would rather tax my intellect to prosperity than taxing my people because we have sufficient education, exposure and experience, which we need to bring to bear for the prosperity of our people, which is why they elected us.”
That was in 2017. YES 2017!!!. Very characteristic of Ayade. He cried after that. Three years after, more than 70 percent of businesses operating in Calabar have left because of multiple taxation.
Yesterday, he repeated almost the same words he spewed in 2017 verbatim and cried again and the gullible are already crying along with him.
That is not all!
In August 2016, Governor Ayade visited Bakassi and cried after seeing the conditions that some returnees lived in. He made an instant donation of N3million. He was accompanied by a representative of the Mayor of Dortmund, Fuss Friedrich whom he said will build free houses for the returnees. He had introduced the man who followed him as the Mayor but it turned out he was “lying.”
Again in March 2017, during the courtesy visit of the National Commissioner of the National Commission for Migrants, Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, Hajia Sadiya Farouk in the government house, Governor Ayade cried over the status of the Bakassi returnees. He wept and vowed to do everything he can to resettle the people of Bakassi and called on government not to neglect them. I don’t know whether the people of Bakassi have  been resettled after that crying.
April 10, 2018, Governor Ayade also broke down in tears at the conference room of the government house when he asked his aide on Religious Affairs, Rev. Fr. Bob Etta to pray while signing the NGN1.3 trillion budget of Kinetic Crystallization into law. He cried also because he said the budget was going to de-couple the State from federal allocation and lift the poor out of poverty.
But shortly after that, CrossRiverWatch news editor, Jonathan Ugbal and three others were arrested for allegedly photographing two commissioners including the immediate past Attorney General of the State, that were sleeping during that exercise. Till date, even the hard copy of the budget is not available to the public not to talk of the promises inside.
My ten kobo advise to my governor is that the poor can never be freed from poverty by exempting them from taking responsibility. Taxation is not a burden. It is a civic duty for the collective good of the society. Taxes should be reduced, rebates given and made convenient for even the poorest of the citizens to pay with intermittent holidays. Taxes should not be a burden but they should also not be taken away. They are our right and civic duty. Taxes are Biblical. Taxes are a way of ensuring that every citizen of age and ability takes responsibility for the collective upkeep of the society and also ensure government is accountable. Every government that wants to abolish taxes is tilting towards a lack of accountability.
In a state where the total monthly IGR is less than N1billion and federal allocation is one of the lowest amidst crashing oil prices, abolition of taxes is not magnanimity. It is naivety. Don’t come here and tell me about those thrash called I-Money and G-Money and OPM.
Finally, I agree wholely that crying is not a sign of weakness. We all cry. I cry too. Even our Lord Jesus cried. But what the governor needed to do yesterday was not another round of crying or a regurgitation of same things he has been saying since 2017 as if he was saying something new, he rather needs to ensure that his aides take him more seriously and respect his orders and commands and directives. If they had done that, poor people would have long had some respite from the tax masters over 3 years ago and our cry cry baby in Peregrino House would have rested his face towel, at least…
Agba Jalingo is the Publisher of CrossRiverWatch.com

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May 12, 2020170
Covid-19: Government’s Negligence and the mistrust of the masses
By Idris Mohammed, Sokoto
As the world is fighting the deadly coronavirus pandemic, every country is putting its very best to tackle the widespread of the disease as well as providing the relief materials to ease the tension among the citizens.
In Nigeria, poor democratic governance is the major challenge hindering the sensitization against coronavirus disease popularly known as covid 19.
Lack of quality representation and cordial relationship between the people and government is bringing different dimension in the process. The question that is always echoing in the mind of this author is, do Nigerians even believe in covid 19 disease at all?
This is because the significant population that occupies the country are left behind wallowing and struggling with abject poverty, unemployment, diseases and extreme hunger.
The government neglected not only health sector but the entire sectors of the economy. In my interaction with Dan Sadi, a water vendor (Dan Garuwa), he said “there is nothing like government in Nigeria since I am not benefitting anything from them. I can only hear from them whenever they need our vote so why will I even waste my time on the issue of corona”?
According to him, government created the virus to get more money from the western world and oppress the poor masses, and I believe many people in Nigeria hold the same view with regards to the pandemic.
From the glance of the international best practice against covid 19, one can agree with me that an average Nigerian that is not enjoying the services of his state but listening over the radio that for instance, government the world over had packaged and distributed all forms of palliatives to its citizens, or US directs cash payments of $1200 corona virus relief package directly to citizens accounts, regardless of whether the individual belong to any political party, association, faith, working class, retired or not.
While here, government asked you to stay at home, with no constant drinking water or let alone bringing food items to their door step. Not only that, how many people are even leaving above one dollar per day?
I recalled what Hajara a widower left with nine children without nine thousand naira to cater for the family said to me when sharing views with her on Covid 19. She believed that the palliatives are not for the people like her, “because the government only helps the politicians and other influential individuals not poor widow like me,” she said.
The continued widening of the gap between government and people has created mistrust between them since before the emergence of covid-19.
Most people do believe that people in power are interested more in representing their pocket than the ordinary man on the street who spent several hours to get them into the public offices.
And with this issue on ground, people are thinking that government is just using the pandemic to get more from the western world.
A perfect example can be seen in people’s comments on Ganduje`s request for $15 billion from federal government.
Another angle of this gap is conducive atmosphere for the merchants of fake news and misinformation, this however is as a result of government’s inability to communicate to the people effectively on the pandemic especially at the grassroots level.
Purveyors of fake news are busy misleading people both on the existence of the virus and stands of Nigerian government.
For instance, there was a purported video of covid-19 patients in Kano isolation center, claiming they aren’t afflicted by the virus, which had gone viral on social media platforms.
Another horrible video was that of Gombe isolation centre, which is making the place to become a dramatic stage with different scene every day.
Another one was in Katsina, where the two sons of the deceased doctor who were reported to have died of the virus, appeared on Facebook video debunking the existence of the virus.
All these and so many other instances, have created doubt and continue to fuel fears in the minds of the people on whether or not the virus is really in existence.
In as much as I blame some Nigerians for not believing the government, much blame is on the government for sustaining continuous lies aged.
No matter what Nigerian leaders  will tell the masses,  they will not trust them. Nigerians have been dying for so long, as a result of contaminated water, preventable diseases, hunger and unemployment, so what do you expect from Nigerians while they are experiencing worst than coronavirus in the country?
Until Nigerian leaders provide masses with good health care system, security of lives and properties, sound education system, job opportunities to the teeming unemployed youth which will draw people closer to government and its policies, the masses especially those without democratic dividends will never believe in covid 19 or any of government’s policies.
This is because government have failed to perform its functions and as thus, keeping people away from their leaders.
Idris Mohammed is a violent conflict researcher and democratic governance expert with Usmanu Danfodio University
He tweets @idris4P

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May 11, 20202060

Reuben Abati: The spiritual side of Nigeria’s Aso Villa

People tend to be alarmed when the Nigerian Presidency takes certain decisions. They don’t think the decision makes sense. Sometimes, they wonder if something has not gone wrong with the thinking process at that highest level of the country. I have heard people insist that there is some form of witchcraft at work in the country’s seat of government. I am ordinarily not a superstitious person, but working in the Villa, I eventually became convinced that there must be something supernatural about power and closeness to it. I’ll start with a personal testimony. I was given an apartment to live in inside the Villa. It was furnished and equipped. But when my son, Michael arrived, one of my brothers came with a pastor who was supposed to stay in the apartment. But the man refused claiming that the Villa was full of evil spirits and that there would soon be a fire accident in the apartment. He complained about too much human sacrifice around the Villa and advised that my family must never sleep overnight inside the Villa.

I thought the man was talking nonsense and he wanted the luxury of a hotel accommodation. But he turned out to be right. The day I hosted family friends in that apartment and they slept overnight, there was indeed a fire accident. The guests escaped and they were so thankful. Not long after, the President’s physician living two compounds away had a fire accident in his home. He and his children could have died. He escaped with bruises. Around the Villa while I was there, someone always died or their relations died. I can confirm that every principal officer suffered one tragedy or the other; it was as if you needed to sacrifice something to remain on duty inside that environment. Even some of the women became merchants of dildo because they had suffered a special kind of death in their homes (I am sorry to reveal this) and many of the men complained about something that had died below their waists too. The ones who did not have such misfortune had one ailment or the other that they had to nurse. From cancer to brain and prostate surgery and whatever, the Villa was a hospital full of agonizing patients.

I recall the example of one particular man, an asset to the Jonathan Presidency who practically ran away from the Villa. He said he needed to save his life. He was quite certain that if he continued to hang around, he would die. I can’t talk about colleagues who lost daughters and sons, brothers and uncles, mothers and fathers, and the many obituaries that we issued. Even the President was multiply bereaved. His wife, Mama Peace was in and out of hospital at a point, undergoing many surgeries. You may have forgotten but after her husband lost the election and he conceded victory, all her ailments vanished, all scheduled surgeries were found to be no longer necessary and since then she has been hale and hearty. By the same token, all those our colleagues who used to come to work to complain about a certain death beneath their waists and who relied on videos and other instruments to entertain wives (take it easy boys, I don’t mean nay harm, I am writing!), have all experienced a re-awakening.

Everyone who went under the blade has received miraculous healing, and we are happy to be out of that place. But others were not so lucky. They died. There were days when convoys ran into ditches and lives were lost. In Norway, our helicopter almost crashed into a mountain. That was the first time I saw the President panicking. The weather was all so hazy and he just kept saying it would not be nice for the President of a country to die in a helicopter crash due to pilot miscalculations. The President went into a prayer mode. We survived. In Kenya once, we had a bird strike. The plane had to be recalled and we were already airborne with the plane acting like it would crash. During the 2015 election campaigns, our aircraft refused to start on more than one occasion. The aircraft just went dead. On some other occasions, we were stoned and directly targeted for evil. I really don’t envy the people who work in Aso Villa, the seat of Nigeria’s Presidency. For about six months, I couldn’t even breathe properly. For another two months, I was on crutches. But I considered myself far luckier than the others who were either nursing a terminal disease or who could not get it up.

When Presidents make mistakes, they are probably victims of a force higher than what we can imagine. Every student of Aso Villa politics would readily admit that when people get in there, they actually become something else. They act like they are under a spell. When you issue a well- crafted statement, the public accepts it wrongly. When the President makes a speech and he truly means well, the speech is interpreted wrongly by the public. When a policy is introduced, somehow, something just goes wrong. In our days, a lot of people used to complain that the APC people were fighting us spiritually and that there was a witchcraft dimension to the governance process in Nigeria. But the APC folks now in power are dealing with the same demons. Since Buhari government assumed office, it has been one mistake after another. Those mistakes don’t look normal, the same way they didn’t look normal under President Jonathan. I am therefore convinced that there is an evil spell enveloping this country. We need to rescue Nigeria from the forces of darkness. Aso Villa should be converted into a spiritual museum, and abandoned.

Should I become President of Nigeria tomorrow, I will build a new Presidential Villa: a Villa that will be dedicated to the all-conquering Almighty, and where powers and principalities cannot hold sway. But it is not about buildings and space, not so? It is about the people who go to the highest levels in Nigeria. I really don’t quite believe in superstitions, but I am tempted to suggest that this is indeed a country in need of prayers. We should pray before people pack their things into Aso Villa. We should ask God to guide us before we appoint ministers. We should, to put it in technocratic language, advise that the people should be very vigilant. We have all failed so far, that crucial test of vigilance. We should have a Presidential Villa where a President can afford to be human and free. In the White House, in the United States, Presidents live like normal human beings. In Aso Villa, that is impossible. They’d have to surround themselves with cooks from their villages, bodyguards from their mother’s clans and friends they can trust. It should be possible to be President of Nigeria without having to look behind one’s shoulders. But we are not yet there. So, how do we run a Presidency where the man in the saddle can only drink water served by his kinsman? No. How can we possibly run a Presidency where every President proclaims faith in Nigeria but they are better off in the company of relatives and kinsmen. No. We need as Presidents men and women who are willing to be Nigerians. No Nigerian President should be in spiritual bondage because he belongs to all of us and to nobody.

Now let me go back to the spiritual dimension. A colleague once told me that I was the most naïve person around the place. I thought I was a bright, smart, professional doing my bit and enjoying the President’s confidence. I spelled it out. But what I got in response was that I was coming to the villa using Lux soap, but that most people around the place always bathed in the morning with blood. Goat blood. Ram blood. Whatever animal blood. I argued. He said there were persons in the Villa walking upside down, head to the ground. I screamed. Everybody looked normal to me. But I soon began to suspect that I was in a strange environment indeed. Every position change was an opportunity for warfare. Civil servants are very nice people; they obey orders, but they are not very nice when they fight over personal interests.

The President is most affected by the atmosphere around him. He can make wrong decisions based on the cloud of evil around him. Even when he means well and he has taken time to address all possible outcomes, he could get on the wrong side of the public. A colleague called me one day and told me a story about how a decision had been taken in the spiritual realm about the Nigerian government. He talked about the spirit of error, and how every step taken by the administration would appear to the public like an error. He didn’t resign on that basis but his words proved prophetic. I see the same story being re-enacted. Aso Villa is in urgent need of redemption. I never slept in the apartment they gave me in that Villa for an hour.

Reuben Abati was a spokesman for President Goodluck Jonathan, and Aso Villa is Nigeria’s presidential residence. The article was published in October 2016 on the Guardian Nigeria with the title The spiritual side of Aso Villa

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April 22, 20203090

Femi Fani-Kayode: The Spy Who Fooled Us

By Dr Bolaji Akinyemi

_So, Femi knows what was REALLY going on in this country? ACCESS to persons who were troubling us was not a challenge to him. He was a fraternal member of the shrine of the gods of our hardship, yet FFK posed to be the voice of the masses at sunrise to the elites he had dinner with at sun set._

Shocking seems to be the eulogy of unbelievable tributes that greeted the exit of the man Abba Kyari. One of which is the confirmation of President Muhammadu Buhari on the role of Abba Kyari in his Government whom he simply described as, “the best of us”. With this, the President laid to rest every insinuation regarding who was in charge of his regime by this truth revealed. Abba by this Presidential ascent was the ugly mind, terrible hands and bad face of Buhari administration.

Though Onyema was the first to wave the olive branch that triggered the controversies that are trailing a man who should have been left to rest in peace, the Minister had sought to drive away the twin evil flies of nepotism and bigotry that perched on the man while he was alive. He presented to us a dead liberal Muslim, who was his best man when he wedded his wife of Ido-ani descent in a Catholic church in Owo of Yoruba land, South West Nigeria. Much as Onyema tried, he however didn’t succeed in driving away these twin evil flies; they were lowered with Kyari into his grave.

Several tributes were of interest. While Onyema’s served as an attempt to paint the ugly, good, Simeon Kolawole’s is of course a bad company of and ugly life. While the quietness of Onyema can easily be forgotten, who should forgive a man who lives by the pen for refusing to furnish the life of a dear friend with beautiful line on his very ugly life but chose to write a living epistle of a dead man.

I need not bother you with all who have expressed their rights for or against in their defence of Abba Kyari, neither do I need to struggle at convincing you about the life and times of Abba Kyari, this has been done in what I termed, Tunde Odesola’s Monday kill, published in The Punch Newspaper of Monday 20th April 2020, under the title: The reign of Abba Kyari.

My preoccupation in this communication is to expose the Judas Iscariot who has been calling the attention of the Nigerian Christians to the Islamisation Agenda of Abba Kyari controlled Government with 30 silver pence in his pocket. Heir apparent of a traitor lineage who has been feeding fat at Abba’s kitchen at the expense of the Yoruba nation like his father did at the expense of our leader, the Sage, late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and ofcourse the Yoruba nation, all these Femi did under the guise of standing with us in defence of our common heritage. What a DNA!

Femi said of Abba Kyari, “I have lost a friend of forty years, a man of honour, a good man, a loyal friend. We attended Cambridge together, and worked at my father’s law firm. We remained very close till his last moment”. But Femi’s friend was a foe of the ordinary Nigerian. So his loss was their gain; his mourning was our morning; the death of his friend a new day for us. His man of honour stripped us naked of honour as a people. Under his administration, Boko Haram has the edge over the rest of us, killing at will. And Fulani herdsmen must have our ancestral land without resistance or we pay with our lives, according to Femi’s name sake, surnamed Adesina. Abba was a good man to Femi, but he was bad to the middle belt, South West, South East, and South South, whose inheritances must be “RUGALISED” as a conquered territory of those who are born only to rule the rest of us. He showed us his fraternal friendship of forty years to reveal who he truly is: a spy. As the English adage say, show me your friend and I will show you who you here. Now we know who Femi is; a dancing leaf on the surface of our water, whose drummer was Kyari beneath the river.

This spy of the political elites among the commoners was so much ‘in love’ with us that we never had a clue of his espionage mission until the death of his paymaster. The loss of his next cheque must have so gotten to him that his emotions got the better of his reasoning that the cat escaped from his bag.

How come he got away with being APC mole in PDP camp? How come the pay piper of Kyari played the discordant tunes of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan campaign organisation and everyone danced his beat of avoidable electoral defeat.

Femi Fani Kayode is a man with the mastery of words, eloquent in speech, witty and weighty. You can hardly match him in the craft of his crafty trade of Communication. Verbal or written, Femi is a man to fear for his words pierces like a dart. But the charms of words is in the strength of character that utters or authors them. Former President Obasanjo once described Femi as a mouth in service of his stomach. How right Baba Iyabo is.

Femi had all it takes to lead Atiku/Obi Media Team during the last election. Except character. In a moment of his own anger over his consistent rejection to be admitted into the Team, was ‘because of a window that was opened to him at the Presidency’. Femi chose the window in preference to the door of the Villa that was opened to him, thus confirming the words of Jesus, that he that enters not by the door is a thief and a robber. Femi shunned the dignity of the doorway to climb in through the window just to keep his nefarious activities concealed. What a shame!

Femi stood against “Buhari”. For Buhari, what an award winning Nollywood Script: The Spy Who Fooled Us. He delivered his lines with skills and mastery to become the unofficial spokesman of our collective opposition against Buhari’s Government. While Femi’s vituperations excites us, it put paid to opposition agitations against this very evil administration and gave them nothing to worry about. He won our confidence and therefore became a rallying point of all who were aggrieved with the manhandling of Nigerians and mismanagement of our resources. Visit to his tweeter handle to know what the belly was saying to the mouth was a daily duty by concerned Nigerians. Femi became the toast of the Ndigbo, a Masquerade dressed in the Villa danced to the admiration of the Igbos at home and in diaspora, Nnamdi Kanu’s arms were opened to him, so, Kyari’s confidant became Kanu’s compatriot in the agitation of Biafran for self determination. This spy fooled all.

Northern Nigerian Christians saw hope in an “Esua” who for today’s pot of pottage has sold tomorrow’s greatness.

Except for the Spirit of God, the elect would have been deceived! I would have become a protege of a mad mentor whose belly is his God. Enormous pressure were mounted on me on the need to meet Femi, but not once did I have a release in my spirit. Femi just doesn’t add up! How can a man with such contentious words be so lightly dealt with by this Government with his bad case with EFCC? How come the Judge is just not available to sit on his case? How come his security details is among the best for anyone without appointment with this Government? How come every looter in Buhari’s trap are quiet, behaving and cooperating with Kyari’s controlled administration, except Femi Fani Kayode? How come Femi is the only ‘bush meat’ who seems not to be worried about the hunter and his dane gun?

FFK, his undaunted by the shock of the people on the revelation of his person and the flowing streams of anger that greeted his tribute, he has a rejoinder, read an extract, ” the truth is that when it comes to the gathering of information and acquisition of knowledge and what is REALLY going on behind closed doors on this country I know far more than virtually all of my traducers because l have ACCESS to people and places that most of them can only dream about”. What a revelation.

So, Femi knows what was REALLY going on in this country? ACCESS to persons who were troubling us was not a challenge to him. He was a fraternal member of the shrine of the gods of our hardship, yet FFK posed to be the voice of the masses at sunrise to the elites he had dinner with at sun set.

Femi omo Fani Kayode “ti di ilekun to rinu, to ri ode”. Femi the son of Fani Kayode has become a door, seeing both inside and outside of the house. A dual personality with conflicting ideology. “Ohun ni pe ole ko wa ja, o hun na ni pe oloko kowa mu”, he is the informant of the thieves to come and steal, who also alerts the owner to the arrival of the bandits. What a contradiction to pride in!

Lesson learnt: our struggle for a better and greater Nigeria must not be politicised. Our ideology for a restructured federation cannot be championed by politicians. Our drive for generational shift in leadership will never happen left to PDP or APC. We must take our destiny in our hands and consolidate our aggregated 3rd force movements across party divide to throw up men with values needed for leadership in this season of our nation.

The folly of the wise is in their failure to understand that God is the all and only wise one, from him all wisdom streams. My prayer for Femi is same as David did in the day it became known that Ahitophel was with Absalom. “Oh Lord, he said, turn the counsel of Ahitophel to foolishness.” May same be the fate of Femi Fani Kayode.


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April 7, 20204290

Time to lockdown China and Punish Beijing for coronavirus dishonesty

There are many lessons to be learned from the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. But one is already clear: China needs to be isolated from the civilized world until its behavior improves. We are in the current situation, with deaths and economic devastation worldwide, because China handled this outbreak with its trademark mixture of dishonesty, incompetence and thuggery. Were China a more civilized nation, this outbreak would have been stopped early, and with far less harm, inside and outside of China.

As Marion Smith on Sunday, China’s first response was to clamp down on reports of the then-new disease that had appeared in Wuhan. The brave doctor, Li Wenliang, who first reported the disease to fellow physicians was silenced by police. Chinese media reports of the disease were censored by the government. So were ordinary citizens reporting on social media.

Coronavirus coverup

According to U.S. intelligence agencies, China systematically deceived the world about the extent of the outbreak, lulling other nations into a false sense of security that delayed a response by weeks or even months.

As Smith writes: “Beijing denied until Jan. 20 that human to human transmission was occurring. Yet at the same time, Chinese officials and state-owned companies were urgently acquiring bulk medical supplies — especially personal protective equipment like masks and gloves — from AustraliaEurope, and around the world. Put simply, Beijing hoarded the world’s life-saving resources while falsely claiming that people’s lives weren’t at risk.”

 

And this is the most charitable account, based on China failing to deal with what was, at root, a naturally occurring disease outbreak. And it may have been naturally occurring. But people are increasingly entertaining the possibility that the COVID-19 virus was accidentally released by a Chinese virology lab in Wuhan.

That notion was once dismissed as a conspiracy theory, but it has since been discussed in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and by uber-establishment Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. The talk is of an accidental release, not the deliberate deployment of a biological weapon — which makes sense, since few nations would release a bioweapon in their own heartland — but if it’s true it only makes the Chinese government look worse, though it perhaps explains their unwillingness to be forthcoming.

But wherever the virus came from, China’s response was inept, dishonest and utterly inconsiderate of the rest of the world. A competent, honest response would have placed the world on notice much earlier. A China that cared about the rest of the world would have halted flights abroad while this disease was spreading, instead of allowing its citizens to spread willy-nilly around the globe. (As Brian Kennedy writes: “China seems to have taken the position that if they were to suffer the coronavirus, so too was the United States and the rest of the world. What else is to explain the continuation of flights from China to the United States at the rate of some 20,000 passengers a day, until President Trump wisely shut them down?”)

China needs to show good global citizenship

This calls for a response.

The response needs to be harsh enough to teach the Chinese government a lesson, which means pretty harsh, as they appear to still think they can brazen this out. Among other things, the United States — and ideally the world community at large — need to sharply reduce economic relations with China. In particular, no one should be relying on them for medicines, medical equipment and other vital goods. (China’s state news service threatened to plunge America into a “mighty sea” of coronavirus by withholding critical medications.) Chinese scientists should no longer have easy access to Western laboratories or universities. Chinese political leaders should no longer find it easy to travel the world.

Congress should pass legislation stripping the Chinese government of sovereign immunity to lawsuits for COVID-19 damage in the United States. China should be stripped of its leadership roles in international organizations. And finally, Taiwan — a nation that has handled the outbreak better than almost any other nation, but has been excluded from the World Health Organization because its membership would offend the Chinese government — deserves membership in WHO, and full diplomatic recognition from the United States, and the rest of the world.

 

These are harsh penalties and the Chinese government won’t like them. They will involve much loss of face for the Chinese Communist Party leadership. But they deserve it, and an example needs to be made. The world is a small and interconnected place now. Those who would profit from globalization, as the Chinese ruling class has, need to show good global citizenship. Now is the time to make that lesson stick.

This article was written by Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor and an author with a title Time to put China on lockdown for its dishonesty amid coronavirus crisis


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February 23, 2020950
In Dunamis’ Glory Dome, the Lord really resides
Nigeria, it’s been comically put, is home to churches more than anywhere else in the world but a poverty capital of the world. It is the belief that, with so many religious houses should ordinarily translate into a prosperous people.
In truth however, as Daily Mail investigates, avalanche of churches appear to drown out the few (sic) good ones.
Yet, existence of so many churches is not a guarantee that there won’t be poverty again or all the poor would turn rich over night. Besides religious houses are not meant to create wealth but government.
However, one of such few good ones is Dunamis International Gospel Centre, DIGC, popularly called Dunamis,  whose magnificent headquarters called Glory Dome lights up the environment along the airport road Abuja.
Arial view of Dunamis’ Glory Dome, along airport road, Abuja
To passers-by, it might just be another building or another waste from another church. But last Sunday’s visit to the church showed it is more than the usual Nigerian church.
Entering the church towards the conclusion of the first service was like an end to a world cup final played by two global footballing giants. One could be tempted to believe so if not for clear signs showing it’s a church.
If the mammoth attendants crowding out the church premises was awe-dropping, the conduct of the second and third services were nothing short of spiritual elevation and an understanding that, when a man is chosen to shepherd the flock by God, he does it effortlessly and God really does show His presence.
And if the rendition to pave way for the preaching of the day was to lift the faithful’s spirit, it was the beginning of an everlasting experience. It is uncommon to see a journalist forget his mandate – listen and report the news. That has always been the mandate wherever he goes. Almost everywhere at all times, a journalist searches and listens for the news. And religious houses are no different.
But this was different. As rendition gave way for teaching, the Senior Pastor, Dr Paul Enenche took over. Taking his reading from Habakkuk 2:2-4 , he explained that, “Vision is the value of life. Absent of vision is the devaluation of life where people are motionless and are worthless.
“Where there is no vision people perish, people are stripped of honour and dignity.”
He took his teaching practically by applying it to human daily life. The need to conceive the vision, act on it, cross check the vision during application, the faith in the vision and God, the urgency in working the vision and the patient to ensure the result or goal set is achieved.
Safe to say, vision needs a master plan from conception to attainment.
Pastor Enenche was speaking directly about political offices in Nigeria but he did not mention it. As one who has always spoken truth to power and suggested ways governance could wear human face, he is indirectly saying, to go into governance requires vision. The vision that would prepare the occupants to execute projects for the common goods.
Political offices are manned for the greater number to enjoy the common goods. That there’s now a dichotomy between ecclesiology and secularism does not in any way mean that governance cannot have a human face or elements that are found in religious undertaken.
It is exactly this order of things Pastor Enenche was speaking about. That for political office holders to deliver for the common goods, they must imbibe these effective and workable processes. Conceive a vision, evolve the plan, work the plan on deliverables, review your plan, execute and believe it will work. Because it is a larger society, the involvement of people must be undertaken because each citizen has denoted his sovereignty willingly as given to him by God to be governed by a central authority.
But then, on that very Sunday, the Senior Pastor whose beautiful wife was beaming with smile all through the church services decided to interrogate actions and inactions of the flock. Like a man asking the heir to the throne, the crown Prince, does he even know the palace or is he prepared to take after me, Pastor Enenche simply tasked his flock to be prepared for the task ahead.
Indeed when the flock grow, the church grows, the community grows and the nation grows. And this can only be achieved through vision.
The attention to details in the teaching to the unison in the Church showed that Enenche was one working on a vision. How were things so ordered in such a huge church? Every few meters away were church workers and individuals who occupied relevant spaces to ensure orderliness. There was no protest or display of anger of any sort. Every one acted in a way to edify God in His glorious majesty.
And it showed in the pastor. His dance steps then his body language was showing a man truly chosen by God.
The feeding of the flock was exemplified both in word and action. First time members were prayed for and taken to a special place where they were counselled and given meal.
During the second service, an elderly man with leg problem, walking on crutches was healed. It was unbelievable. Then during the third service, another elderly man with neck and spinal chord problems who had a collar strapped around his neck got healed. The healing was devoid of the usual drama that characterises such actions in the church. It was no doubt telling miracle moments.
Interestingly, the church workers numbering about thousands returned and patiently waited for a meeting that took the time to well past 3pm. Yet, they were beaming with smile and happiness to play their path.
Daily Mail had wanted to speak to the Senior Pastor but the number of people waiting along the path made it impossible, one understands it was quite a busy Sunday. Or what could one do when children were running to hug their father in the Lord?
As afternoon began to give way to evening, it was time to take one final shot at the church. Yes, one has benefited spiritually, savouring the church building was not a bad idea at all.
As one walked within the church, a voice from behind asked, “Is this your first time sir?
“Yes please,” was the response.
“Did you enjoy it?
“I came to behold the much talked about church, it’s magnificent, it hugeness but I ended up leaving with conversion and self belief. Something strange struck me that stopped me from doing my job as a journalist. And that was God’s presence who rather told me to pray and leave behind why i came.”
And the voice laughed and said, “You are at the right place. Perhaps if you meet the Senior Pastor, you would even have better idea and appreciate God more.”
To which I said, “My brother, I can’t argue on that. God’s really in this Dome.”
The relationship between Nigerian Pastors and the members has always been spoken of as one of lord and servant in classification but the understanding, the respect, the obedience, the loyalty and humility of the Senior Pastor towards the members and the members’ acceptable disposition, how pleased they were is how the flock can best be nurtured and fed.
And nowhere else in the ever multiplying churches in Nigeria than the Dome. Indeed, God really lives in the Glory Dome.
(Isuma Isuma, Editor of Daily Mail, related his first time experience after visiting Dunamis Church, in Abuja)

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February 16, 20201200

By Idris Mohammed

Writing on issues of insecurity is one of the most difficult tasks because it concerns human beings that may have been killed under a government. Anytime I place my fingers on key board to analyze and put my opinion on the Nigerian state of insecurity I felt overwhelmed, so frustrated and headache, because the country is in a serious danger while our leaders appears to be ruling the country from another planet.

But we will not keep quiet watching things go on the wrong ways without putting in our contributions which might at least bring the attention of key influential people to make decisive and effective decisions or initiate reforms to arrest the deplorable situation.

Recently, there were calls from some security conscious and minded people from all the corners of Nigeria calling the President to sack the security chiefs over the persistent increase of insecurity in the country.

It is in this situation that Nigerian House of Representatives issued a new warning asking the service chiefs to either resign or be sacked, but the president wouldn’t listen to the House, the security experts and masses who voted him into office.

The concerned citizens have right for doing so because the security atmosphere in the country is always going backwards with the help of some of these service chiefs, which makes their loyalty and patriotism to the country questionable.

What most security observers are premising their facts on, in this situation is, the service chiefs especially military generals conspired to perpetuate the Boko Haram insurgency for their unlawful financial gain.

Despite massive expenditure by Nigerian government over the last decade, these security chiefs and their forces recorded limited success in the fight against terrorism and other security challenges such as armed banditry, cattle rustling and kidnapping.

This kind of negligence and widespread corruption in the security sector are the reasons Boko Haram, ISWAP, Ansaru and other bandits are operating in Nigeria. When the insurgency first emerged, Nigeria treated it with kid glove and refused to investigate the conflict thoroughly before it launched its first attack in 2009. Same in the security caucus, Buhari refused to investigate why still the counter terrorism in the country is failing despite the massive resources invested.

Institute for Security Studies (ISS) Pretoria reported that , from 2010 to 2017, Nigeria spent over N6.7 trillion in the security sector in the name of counter terrorism operation and other security challenges. This amount doesn’t include the extra budgetary allocations such as the US$1 billion the government borrowed in 2013 to fund counter-terrorism operations and the US$21 million approved for the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) in June 2015. The report also doesn’t captured security votes distributed across the country. Despite all these, the country is failing woefully.

Apart from corruption, the country`s security agencies are not cordial in discharging their duties. There is unnecessary rivalry and conflict among the security agencies involved in counter terrorism operation especially between Nigerian military and police force. They do have poor relationship that most a time affects the intelligence gathering, strategic and tactics of operation. What caused this problem is the corruption that affected the sector

It’s not surprising, terror groups and other criminals found the country very conducive to perpetuate their deadly act; they have large operational base in different part of the country especially in the remote areas of northern region. Though, recently the Nigerian police have claimed that they killed over 250 Ansaru terrorist groups in Kaduna state but reports from the said communities is otherwise.

It’s in this context of increasing insecurity in the country that terrorist attacked Auno community, a town which is just 24 kilometers away from the capital city of Maiduguri, burnt the community into ashes and nearly wiped it out. The report said there was no any single security agent at that time because they ran away when they closed the entrance to Maiduguri capital city and left the people at the mercy of the terrorist group.

Another terrifying story is that, the Boko Haram has good collaboration with some of the people from Auno who frequently provide them with information of motorists’ movements; no any person from Auno community was affected by the attack. There is need to have good civil military relationship framework to enable us bridge the gap between the local communities and the security agencies involved in the counter terrorism operation.

For Nigerian government to win this war, the authorities must investigate the security agencies thoroughly, change the service chiefs and also bridge the gap exist among the security agencies involved in the operation. Cooperating with border localities especially lake chad basin areas will help in curbing the terror groups activities and finally government should address the issue of explosive population growth, unemployment and climate change, these issues are exacerbating economic anxiety and fomenting lawlessness especially in the communities in northern Nigeria that border with Niger Republic, Cameroon, Chad and Togo.

There is also allegation against the perfection of operation safe corridor; it is an initiative for the deradicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration of all ex-Boko Haram combatants. Communities and some top military officials are not happy with the initiative, to them is like government is taking care of the ex-combatant more than the real victims of the insurgence. This generates a lot of grievances and potentially encourages new sources of violence in the affected areas.

Nigeria can’t afford loosing huge amount of money, resource, lives and property because of the attitude of some few unpatriotic security personnel. If not Nigeria will remain in surprise worst of President’s surprise!

Idris Mohammed, a lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication, Usmanu Danfodio University Sokoto, Wrote this piece. He tweets @idris4P


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December 27, 20191010

In this article, the author pointedly opined in clear comparative analyses of Nigeria’s scarce resources while the citizens often governed by poor leadership live in the illusion that their country is such a wealthy one. 

Nigeria has a smaller national budget than Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and South Africa. All these countries have fewer citizens, yet significantly more money to spend on them. While Nigeria’s 2019 budget amounts to $29 billion, South Africa, with a population almost 4 times smaller, will spend $130 billion. Egypt has a $90 billion budget with 100 million people. Elsewhere, countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Vietnam have larger budgets than Nigeria. No one considers these nations “rich”. Yet, among Nigerians, there persists a stubborn myth that Nigeria is a wealthy country. Who planted this idea and why does it survive?
It started with Nigeria’s 1950s pro-independence leaders who needed to mobilize popular opinion against colonialism to push the British out. So, they regularly emphasized Nigeria possessed abundant economic resources being carted away by the British. “Help us drive them out and we will use these vast resources to transform your lives”, was their essential message.
Many Nigerians believed these often exaggerated claims of abundant wealth awaiting distribution and duly mobilized for independence. By 1960, then Governor-General Nnamdi Azikiwe was constructing national pride on the idea that thanks to her resources and population size, Nigeria was already an “African power.” And this was before crude-oil exports really took off in the mid-1960s. By the 1970s, General Yakubu Gowon was telling Nigerians their country’s problem was not money, but “how to spend it”.
Whatever Gowon’s intentions, his words were interpreted by many Nigerians to mean theirs was a rich country, period. Over 20 years later, during my secondary school days, we would often recall Gowon’s famous statement. Anytime someone brought it up, we would all laugh with some delight. It made us feel like part of an exclusive members-only club; the club of rich nations. Sorry, no poor countries allowed.
It also gave us a sense of hope and relief because it meant that all the problems we observed around us – no water, no light, new slums everyday – these were all easily solvable. Nigeria had the money to make all these disappear fast. The minute an honest government took over, it would be farewell problems, hello prosperity. There is great comfort in believing solutions to your problems are within arm’s reach. That all it takes is for X to happen. That’s why demagogues and charlatans will always have followers.
The first time someone challenged my belief I was from a rich country I became agitated. It was a girlfriend of mine who wasn’t Nigerian, one of those annoying types who know things they have no business knowing. I mentioned Nigeria was rich. “No, it isn’t. I checked. It has a smaller economy than some countries with just 5-10 million people like Sweden or Norway and a lower GDP per capita than the likes of Albania, Guatemala or Mongolia which are all considered poor countries,” she retorted. I struggled to contain my anger. What kind of rubbish was this girl telling me? That my entire national self-concept was wrong? Impossible!
I think many Nigerians are still psychologically reluctant to accept Nigeria’s true position in the global pecking order today. Our sense of national self is largely built around the notion that we are a country very rich in natural and human resources, just one good government away from greatness. Some optic illusions further render this belief hard to shake.


In every state, there are a few dozen people (usually involved in politics) who possess such visibly stupendous wealth, we can be forgiven for assuming there is a lot more where that came from. Thing is, there isn’t. If you shared Nigeria’s 8.83 trillion naira national budget equally among Nigerians, each citizen would receive a paltry 45,000 naira or so; hardly enough to keep you in Panadol for the year.
Of course, states have budgets too, but even Lagos, by far Nigeria’s richest city, has a modest 852 billion naira ($2.4 billion) to spend on 15 to 20 million residents this year. For comparison, Johannesburg has double that budget for fewer than 5 million people. And it still struggles to provide basic social services. What we have in Nigeria is a few hundred people looting and squandering such a disproportionate amount of Nigeria’s modest resources that an illusion of plenty is sustained among the populace.
Another factor fuelling this “there is money in Nigeria” belief is that many people pretend to have more of it than they actually do. My friend who runs a crèche in one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in Lagos says she has lost count of the number of parents who drive the most expensive Range Rovers yet struggle to pay their children’s nursery fees on time. Of course, aspirational Nigerians don’t live above their means just because, they do so in response to societal pressure for them to prove they are “somebodies”; worth talking business to, hanging out with and treating respectfully. Raise your hand if you have ever pretended to have more money than you really do so as to be treated respectfully somewhere in Nigeria (my hand is raised high).
But the end result is that when you combine the authentic and visible wealth of a few hundred Nigerians living off the state with the lifestyles of all those trying hard to appear rich, the rest of society can be forgiven for believing there must be a lot of money in Nigeria.
This is bad because it encourages many intelligent people to focus not on thinking of how to create wealth, but on how to corner their own “share” of this fabulous national cake. Either by getting into government or by winning a government contract and then behaving as though the pockets of the state are bottomless.
Another consequence of this illusion is that it diminishes the sense of urgency required to tackle the existential threats Nigeria faces, ranging from mass poverty and unemployment to uncontrolled population growth and growing insecurity. At the back of many minds seems to be the implicit assumption one needn’t worry too much. Things will sort themselves out. There is money in Nigeria.
But Nigeria is not rich. And with its rapidly-expanding population leading to ever scarcer resources, *only a furious national focus on wealth-creation can save the country*. The Nigerian state, currently viewed by many as a fat cash-cow, is actually a very skinny cow in desperate need of some serious grass in order to stay alive. Else, one day, it will simply stop breathing.


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October 19, 20191170

When my daughters were small they had a favorite bit of doggerel that prefigured some early feminist leanings.

“Girls go to college to get more knowledge/Boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider,” they would chant at me, and, with more evident passion, at any young males in their vicinity. I’d try to take issue with the grammatical betise in the second line that, I would point out, slightly undermined the premise of the jibe, but it was no good. Girls were smarter than boys and immeasurably superior in just about every other respect.

On that, of course, I have never dared demur.

But as it turns out, and as my girls progress with grace and accomplishment up the gilded escalator of their liberal education, there’s a searing piece of truth in that couplet that points up a deep demographic chasm in this country and in much of the developed world.

The gender imbalance in educational attainment is getting larger every year. That may spell good news, ultimately, for income and employment equality—but it presages increasingly problematic social conditions for generations of men and women.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, more than 57% of the class of 2018 who graduated with bachelor’s degrees were female. The gap for master’s degrees was even wider: 59% to 41%.

This gender imbalance has existed since 1981, when more women than men graduated for the first time, and it’s widened just about every single year since then. In fact, the Department estimates that by 2027 women will account for about 60% of all bachelor’s degrees awarded.

Now, from the perspective of economic justice and equity, we can surely stipulate that this is progress. It may be the most tangible piece of evidence of a fundamental change in sexual equality since women were given the vote. If education really is the key to lifetime earning potential, then slowly, perhaps, steadily, we can expect the gap in pay and opportunities to narrow.

I realize of course that there are many other reasons for gender differences in economic outcomes, and many of those aren’t going away. But the impact of a more highly educated female population in the workforce should be substantial.

But while the economic consequences may play out this way, it’s worth pondering some of the social effects. In the much larger game of life, love and relationships, the growing educational disparity between men and women is a problem.

It is estimated that for every three men with bachelor’s degrees in their 20s and 30s, there are now four women. Most studies of human heterosexual attraction suggest both that intellectual capacity and achievement is an important attractor and that people tend to gravitate toward a partner with roughly the same level of attainment.

But every year, the pool of eligible male graduates is getting smaller relative to the number of women. Now of course college isn’t everything, and many women will find a perfect mate who hasn’t been through the four-year playground of parties, sleeping and the occasional lecture. But the reality is that more of them are going to have to if they want a meaningful relationship.

And there’s a larger problem confronting these new cohorts of well-educated women. It’s always been assumed that women are more selective in seeking out a partner of the opposite sex. Men are notoriously undiscriminating; women, obviously more refined and sophisticated, are more choosy. But with data now available from dating apps we are beginning to get a sense of just how big this gap is too.

Aviv Goldgeier, an engineer with the dating app Hinge, was recently interviewed about data he’d compiled on the “likes” of straight men and women. If we think of attractiveness in terms of an economic asset, we can measure how evenly or unevenly distributed that asset is among men and women. Economists use a measure—the Gini coefficient—to estimate the level of inequality in an economy. The nearer the number is to 0, the more evenly distributed the wealth. The closer it is to 1, the more unequal it is.

It turns out that the Gini index for males is 0.542—a high level of inequality. A small number of men hold most of the attractiveness assets. For women, in the eyes of men, the attractiveness assets were much more evenly spread—a Gini index of just 0.376. Grim confirmation: A much smaller number of men are considered eligible by women than is the case for women as viewed by men.

In other words, when they’ve finished college, it’s women who may need to go to Jupiter to find a decent partner.

This article appeared with original title, A Good Man Is Getting Even Harder to Find on WSJ, and written by Gerard Baker.


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October 15, 2019560

By Jonathan Ekhator, WASH Specialist

Osun, NIGERIA – As the sun sets behind the hills of Oke Aladie village, one of the first communities certified as open defecation free (ODF) in Nigeria, Simbiat Afolabi rises from her sitting position to address a group of women gathered for hygiene promotion sessions.

Afolabi is one of the volunteer hygiene promoters trained by the Local Government Area (LGA) Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Department to promote safe hygiene behavior in communities.

As a volunteer, her goal is to ensure that the members of her community embrace safe hygiene practices as the norm.

“I don’t want us to go back to the times when we use to defecate in the open and don’t care about washing our hands after using the toilet or before cooking and eating,” Afolabi said.

Although her community has been declared open defecation free, efforts are still being put into ensuring that they maintain their ODF status. The WASH unit facilitators, with support from UNICEF provide trainings on safe hygiene practices such as proper handwashing at critical times.

In Nigeria, about 50 per cent of the population live in rural areas. But this group of people are disproportionately served and have less access to WASH services than their counterparts in the urban areas.

According to the 2018 WASH National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASH-NORM) conducted by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and National Bureau of Statistics with support from UNICEF, only 26 per cent of the rural population in Nigeria have access to basic water and sanitation services compared to 45 per cent in urban areas and 30 per cent of rural population practice open defecation compared to 11 per cent in urban areas. Thus, those living in rural areas are about two times less likely to access basic water and sanitation services and are three times more likely to defecate in the open than those in urban areas. If Nigeria is to end open defecation by 2025 and meet the SDGs on water and sanitation by 2030, attention must be given to improving access to WASH services in rural communities.

With the adoption of the “Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet” campaign by the government in May 2019, the momentum to revitalize the WASH sector is growing. UNICEF, through the support of the European Union, DFID and DGIS, is supporting many rural communities to tackle issues related to open defection and poor sanitation and hygiene practices. Through the Community-Led Total Sanitation with Sanitation Marketing and Financing (CLTS++) approach propagated by UNICEF and adopted by the government in 2016, LGA WASH units visit rural communities to facilitate community dialogue processes on open defecation using participatory tools. This enables community members analyze and appraise their sanitation and hygiene situation. During this process, people often realize that they have been eating and drinking food and water contaminated by their own feces. They are also made aware of the negative health, social and economic impacts of poor hygiene practices. To tackle the issue, they all work in collaboration to draw up an action plan to end open defecation in their communities and adopt local solutions for all households to own and use a toilet. Communities and their leaders, with support from state agencies and LGA WASH units, build and strengthen supply chains, link sanitation entrepreneurs to households and create financing opportunities for households to scale up the uptake of improved toilets in their communities.

With the critical role of women in promoting WASH services clearly defined and recognized, women in these rural communities have been placed at the heart of CLTS++ activities. Like Afolabi, these women serve as volunteer hygiene promoters, community influencers, toilet business owners, and key Adashe (community local savings and loans group) and WASH Committee members, who have supported many communities to end open defecation. With support from UNICEF, 8 LGAs (out of 13 ODF LGAs) and over 18,000 communities have attained their ODF status, and the proportion of improved latrines has increased from 40 per cent to over 60 percent since 2016. Narrowing down to Oke Aladie village, all households now own and use a latrine and practice safe hygiene and handwashing at critical times as a result of the influence of women who are amongst the key community leaders that lead the CLTS++ process. A similar trend is taking place in all the 160 communities under Ifedayo LGA. This LGA is on its way to becoming the first to attain LGA-wide open defecation free status in southwest Nigeria.

While these may be early days in the journey to an open defecation free Nigeria, lessons from women in Oke Aladie village who are driven by their passion to see their communities become open defecation free is a beacon of hope for the country. Engaging women in CLTS++ processes such as toilet business owners, WASH entrepreneurs, sanitation or hygiene officers, WASH facility caretakers, amongst other activities, has played vital roles in boosting community ownership of WASH services and women empowerment. Government at all levels, with the support of partner organizations, should continue to engage rural women when facilitating community action to promote safe hygiene and end open defecation in Nigeria.

Jonathan Ekhator is a WASH Specialist at UNICEF Nigeria.