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Pink Oak: Why Nigerians should be excited this #WorldCancerDay!

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By Dr Laz Ude Eze

Today is World Cancer Day! It is no news that cancer has become an epidemic in Nigeria. It is no news that many – young and old, male and female, rich and poor – have been killed by cancer. It is no news that in Nigeria, cancer diagnosis creates huge financial burden on patients and their families and friends. Likewise, it is no news that government health financing in Nigeria has been abysmally and unacceptably poor. But as we commemorate the World Cancer Day today, there is news for you. Pink Oak is news! What is Pink Oak, you may want to ask? I will explain after you may have read this story.

A 32-year old Inioluwa Igwe presented at the Out-Patient Clinic of General Hospital, Okposi with the history of a painless right breast lump she detected 6 months earlier while taking her bath. Inioluwa is a mother to 3 children (aged 6, 4 and 2 years) and works as a Senior Administrative Officer in a private firm. Her monthly net pay is about N150,000 without any health insurance coverage. Her husband, Mr. Igwe is a primary school teacher and earns a net salary of N93, 000 monthly.

The lump had rough edges and was about 2cm in size. She was initially hesitant about going to the hospital and had seen her spiritual leader who prescribed a 7-day fasting and prayer against the spirit of cancer. She decided to see a doctor when the lump appeared to be getting bigger despite the spiritual interventions. After a thorough evaluation at a teaching hospital she was referred to, Inioluwa was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. A special test known as immunohistochemistry done to determine the type of breast cancer showed that it was HER2 positive. This type of breast cancer usually occurs in 1 out of 5 Nigerians with breast cancer. It is very aggressive but also responds very well to an expensive medication. She was given a week’s appointment to get the results of the various tests done and to discuss a treatment plan, but the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) – a labour union of health workers except doctors had embarked on an indefinite strike over a dispute with government. Inioluwa had done many tests already and couldn’t afford to pay for fresh tests in a private hospital. While she was waiting, the cancer had spread to her right armpit.

When the strike was suspended, she returned to the hospital and had to repeat most of the tests she had done earlier; the cancer was showing signs of having spread to other parts of the body. These tests cost Inioluwa an additional N80,000. She was counseled on drug treatment which was estimated to cost about N13 million – an amount that is more than four times the annual net salary of Inioluwa and the husband.

Inioluwa reached out to family, friends, her religious leaders, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), etc asking for help. Her friends shared her photos on social media and a TV station helped to share her story. Donations came in trickles and she was only able to realize N1.8 million over a 7 month period. She had been commenced on the drug treatment but defaulted due to her inability to raise the funds to procure the drugs. “Within the year, lack of funds denied her of sustained treatment, resulting in Inioluwa’s death, following the florid spread of the cancer, to the chest, abdomen and brain.” Mr. Igwe lost his beloved wife who brought in 60% of the total earnings of his family and primarily took care of the children.

He had sold their car and a landed property he inherited from his dad and used up his savings to treat Inioluwa and bury her remains. He got depressed later and took to alcoholism. The children got malnourished, the worst hit was the youngest – a 3-year old boy who later died from complications of protein energy malnutrition.  Cancer had created a negative turn to the fortunes of the family. The system failed the Igwes.

The above fictional representation of a true life story is the usual fate of over 90,000 Nigerians who die of cancer every year – the highest in any single country of the world. Could it have been different? Yes, it could! The Pink Oak Cancer Trust – Nigeria’s First Cancer Treatment Fund is here to partner with the Nigerian people and make a difference. The aim is simple – Pink Oak will raise funds from corporate organizations, philanthropic foundations, government and well-meaning individuals. The money realized shall be used to provide financial assistance to Nigerians diagnosed with cancer who are unable to afford treatment. Pink Oak will work closely with existing cancer advocacy organizations to improve access to cancer treatment and prevent untimely deaths from cancer.

With a Governing Board chaired by the Founder of GTBank, Mr. Fola Adeola and populated by eminent men and women of high moral standard and integrity, efficient management of the resources is assured. In fact, Pink Oak is arguably the biggest thing to happen to the cancer world today. No doubt, it is a good reason for Nigerians and cancer advocates globally to be excited. On this note, permit me to say, Happy World Cancer Day! Join us and #DonateToWinCancer! Follow Pink Oak on twitter and Facebook.

 

Dr Eze is a health management expert and the Executive Director of the Pink Oak Cancer Trust. He tweets @donlaz4u. For questions about Pink Oak, mail laz.eze@pinkoak.org

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Opinion

IMN’s Audacity of Lawlessness

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Shiite members

Shiite members

By Femi Giwa

The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) has succeeded where others failed. It has successfully branded itself as the victim, effectively casting the Nigerian state as the aggressor comparable to an occupation force. Those familiar with IMN ascendancy are possibly asking how a problematic group that unleashed hell on commuters and other road users in Zaria has today become an outlawed group that people are blindly canvassing for to protest, kill and destroy property without being held to account.

The answer can be found in several seemingly unrelated development that are yet connected – the one connection being that they all helped IMN evolve the persona of the victim, which now allows it to commit more crimes without its members fearing repercussions.

First is the ability of IMN members to continue hiding their penchant for lawlessness behind the façade of peaceful protests, which are anything but peaceful anyway. It is not unusual to see the group swell its rank with women and children while the hardened elements with catapults, swords and other cudgels stay embedded within the protests, these are the fighters that are able to launch projectiles at security agents without being identified as the source. The arson brigade of the group is similarly concealed, they spray paint graffiti on public buildings and private businesses while their other members are milling around to create a human screen that shield the destructive acts from public glare.

The other factor is ubiquity of social media. Reports of successive encounters with law enforcement are recorded and reported according to IMN’s version of events. They have slick photography and video productions that are published and promoted to tell the IMN story – footages of militants hurling stones and petrol bombs at security personnel are carefully excluded such that the audience goes away with the impression that IMN could not have struck the first blow. The social media feeds are further promoted by embittered commercial activists, who have other axes to grind with managers of the state so it is logical to have the “an enemy’s enemy is a friend” approach to things. Such emergency activists are thus hooked on defending IMN even when their crimes are glaring.

Thirdly, many may not know or believe it but IMN has a deep pocket, which some analysts had attributed to Iranian sponsorship. Anyone that has ever catered to the material and monetary needs of, say, four people at a time will understand what it takes to finance such; but here is IMN bankrolling the logistics of keeping thousands of mostly unemployed people on the streets for protests. The deep pocket supports not just the transportation and feeding the protesters on the streets but also pays for the propaganda and media manipulation that created for IMN the image of a “harmless group” when in reality it is a dangerous group, outlawed in Kaduna state and teetering on the verge of becoming Boko Haram’s replacement. The Iranian support extends to sustained coverage on the owned Press TV, which creates short video clips that allege persecution against IMN.

Furthermore, IMN is a beneficiary of the tendency of decision and policy makers to be stuck on political correctness. What this implies is that those that should keep IMN in check in Nigeria continually commit and enslave themselves to concepts that are unrelated to the Nigerian situation.

It is not unusual to hear people demanding that IMN should be treated like groups that are non-violent because some people want Nigeria to be seen as being compliant with human rights conventions. This error is being reinforced by groups like Amnesty International that practically suggests that security agencies should leave IMN alone to torment other citizens. None of those pushing these kind of ideas have ever come out to condemn IMN for its excesses and crimes. The dictum seems to be “the state is always wrong where IMN is concerned.”

In addition, IMN has been emboldened by the Federal Government’s decision to not designate IMN as a terrorist group even when it has become glaring that this is an unavoidable step to contain the group’s growing resort to terror to make its points.

The outcome of the foregoing is that IMN has been able to embrace more lawlessness with each successive protest. If its members kill a policeman the next thing they will claim is that “we were demanding for the release of our leader”. They echo the same refrain when they set a police patrol car on fire. It has been the standard response they have for their numerous atrocities. One is then compelled to ask if Mr Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, the IMN leader is different from other awaiting trial murder suspects in custody awaiting judicial decisions or trial.

The fact remains that El-Zakzaky is being held for cases of multiple murder, which is no longer news. Rev King is on death row for murder so maybe his followers should take to the streets to demand that he be released while attacking security operatives and crying persecution. Those supporting IMN would definitely support them since their goals are at variance with the Nigeria vision.

Common sense demands that the madness stops now. IMN must be made aware that it cannot continue to act lawlessly even when it does not recognise the rights of the Nigerian state over its own existence. Those indulging El Zakzaky and his men must stop now because the farce has gone on for too long. The cat and mouse chase around IMN’s lawlessness is no longer about El Zakzaky and the state but has spilled over to concern all Nigeria. It is a matter of time before citizens begin to resort to self-help for dealing the IMN menace and that will be really ugly.

Giwa wrote from Lagos street, Abuja.

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Opinion

Buratai: Oasis of Buhari’s Change Agenda

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Tukur Yusuf Buratai

Tukur Yusuf Buratai

By Raymond Onoja

Most times, some Nigerians feel predications of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari on the “Change” mantra should begin and end with Mr. President. However it is a junkyard thought. It explains why often, some Nigerians ask President Buhari to show them the “Change” he promised Nigerians, a psychological detachment from supposed roles.
Leadership anywhere is a collective responsibility and those who exercise it at the lower rung have even greater obligations. The President will fail if he is the lone executor of his policies and programs in governance. Every Nigerian is a leader or “President” in the big or small organization, he is privileged to lead and must amble to the path of the “Change Agenda .” But many Nigerians have failed to recognize this sacrosanct truth.
However, it gladdens the heart to know the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and leader of counter-terrorism operations in Nigeria, Lt. Gen Tukur Yusufu Buratai understands and demonstrates obligations of supportive leadership. His perception of the Nigerian Army as an institution and a country he leads, with the flavour of the “change agenda” has presented to Nigerians a polished army and an organization which is bequeathing enduring legacies to the nation.
He has taught the Nigerian Army virtues of professionalism, patriotism, loyalty, hard work, transparency, honesty and dedication to all assignments. The Army Chief has groomed soldiers who now know, every mission must be accomplished and all assignments must end in positive results or victories.
This is even as it is widely known that budgetary votes to any arm of government or sector have never been sufficient. Paucity of funds to solve the barrage of problems afflicts almost all public institutions. Some heads of MDAs use this as an excuse to celebrate poor performance.
Interestingly, Gen. Buratai has turned the reality of meagre funds to the Army into strength by prudent management of funds accruing to the Nigerian Army. Soldiers are winning the war on Boko Haram terrorism and other insurgencies in the country because troops are psychologically and physically encouraged by their leader.
Soldiers are motivated to give their best through various incentives. Gen. Buratai does not compromise their welfare. Salaries and allowances are never delayed, but paid promptly.
For the first time in the history of the Nigerian Army, the institution has not only transformed, but it is rapidly breaking new grounds under Gen. Buratai. Part of the “Change” agenda of President Buhari is the patronage of local products and services.
Gen. Buratai is religiously committed to this policy. He purchases Army operational vehicle from Innoson Motors, an indigenous company.
In education and training of Army personnel, Gen. Buratai has proved that it is possible to shun foreign institutions. He has stamped that Nigeria has the capacity to develop its own competitive and world class local institutions for the Army and Nigerians.
The COAS has established the first Nigerian Army Aviation School, which has trained the first batch of Army pilots in flying warplanes. There is also, the first ever Nigerian Army University, Biu (NAUB) which will offer professional and specialized training to soldiers, other security agents and civilians. It has commenced operations.
President Buhari has always preached that anywhere Nigerians find themselves in leadership; they must depart from the old order and impact positively on the people by doing things differently. It is under Gen. Buratai’s reign that the Nigerian Army executes its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to its host communities across Nigeria. There are signposts of such projects in water, roads construction, and electricity supply and free medical services to numerous communities in Nigeria.
The Army boss keeps his word. He promised Nigerian Army post-service housing scheme. He was specific on ensuring that every Nigerian soldier who has fought the counter-terrorism war will retire to a befitting home in appreciation of their sacrifices to the nation.
Today, the Nigerian Army in synergy with Betonic West Limited has already launched N7.5 billion Army post-service housing project in Otukpo and Ohimini local government areas of Benue State. There is nothing more comforting than to have a shelter over your head after meritorious service to your country.
Reformations and innovations’ are central to the dictum of the “Change” mantra of Mr. President. Gen. Buratai has established numerous fresh Army formations across the country. Nigerian Army barracks which wore the distinctive emblems of centres of filth and deterioration have been rehabilitated or renovated. Army barracks across the country have been given new facelifts.
It is natural that in every establishment, there are a few bad eggs. Gen. Buratai knows the Nigerian Army is not insulated from the social malaise. For decades, Nigerians have complained of human rights violations perpetrated by soldiers, unfortunately no one harkened to their lamentations over this problem. Gen. Buratai has changed the narrative by establishing the first ever Human Rights Desk at the Army Headquarters (AHQs) to handle such complaints.
President Buhari believes in the concept of leadership by example. This which Gen. Buratai emulates. So, when the Army Chief laces his boots and hops into the trenches in the Northeast with his troops, it demonstrates leadership by example. It is practical expression of his competence in the art of war both as soldier and leader.
Gen. Buratai knows effective leadership is not achieved through propaganda. So, at all times, he strives to feed Nigerians with the truth and condition of the counter-insurgency operations in the Northeast. He neither lies nor exaggerates, but sticks to the truth.
Therefore, Gen. Buratai represents the rarest personality of leadership example at subordinate level. He is a son and leader, in whom President Buhari is well pleased. Buratai is an indisputable symbol of the “Change” agenda of President Buhari’s administration.

Onoja is a development analyst based in the United States of America

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Opinion

Frank: How Oshiomhole allegedly collected $50m from aspirants, candidates during Primaries

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Adams Oshiomhole, Chairman of APC

Adams Oshiomhole, Chairman of APC

Former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, has exposed how the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, allegedly collected over $50million from different aspirants and candidates during the primary elections of the party.

Frank said a large percentage of the money was paid to Oshiomhloe through proxies from Imo, Zamfara, Adamawa and Ogun states among others.

Recall that the nation’s secret police had interrogated Oshiomhole, and reportedly did ask him to resign over allegations of bribery and corruption against him.

In a statement signed in Abuja on Thursday, the former APC spokesman threatened to publish the names and amounts paid to lobby the National Chairman to clear aspirants and substitute the names of duly elected candidates with those that failed.

According to Frank, the Department of State Services (DSS) has presented its report and findings against Oshiomhole to President Muhammadu Buhari but the President is still in dilemma on what to do.

“I dare say that this singular act of refusing to order the prosecution of Oshiomhole over sundry acts of bribery and corruption he committed as contained in the DSS report, President Buhari has shown that his APC-led administration is a stinking house of corruption.”

While expressing surprise at Oshiomhole’s latest ordeal, he said the former Labour leader will go down in history as a party chairman who had allegedly received such humongous bribe within a short period of time in office.

Frank, however, called on the President to act on the recommendations of the DSS by ordering : Oshiomhole’s sack and prosecution, if his (Buhari) government is actually fighting corruption or opposition.

“We are in the know that President Muhammadu Buhari has received the DSS report on Adams Oshiomhole and Nigerians are patiently waiting for the action or inaction of his government because this is an administration that has claimed fighting corruption as an achievement.

“In the history of party administration in Nigeria, no party chairman has been accused of collecting the jaw-breaking amount of money allegedly collected within a short period in office like Comrade Oshiomhole has allegedly done.

“Instead of Oshiomhole to clear his name, he has taken to diversionary path asking the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki to resign. Nigerians are not gullible. We shall wait to see how the acclaimed anti-corruption regime will act on this particular issue.

“This same Oshiomhole has been attacking the Senate President, calling on him to resign on moral ground, can Oshiomhole now step aside while investigation into his financial malfeasance is on going to justify his much talked about morality?” Frank asked.

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