Monthly Archives: June 2014

Anglican Community Joins #MezieOkposi Crusade

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ImageThe leadership of  the Anglican Communion in Ohaozara Arch-Deanery recently visited the Coordinator Okposi Development Centre, Nze Magnus Eze and assured him of their continued prayers to ensure the sustenance of the current moral and social revival going on in Okposi since his appointment as Coordinator. Leader of the team, Venerable Chimaobim Onyenagbagha said they subscribed to the Mezie Okposi crusade because it is in line with the teaching of the Church (Bible).They prayed for the success of the Coordinator and his Administration; and finally presented him with a Holy Bible; and a book authored by His Lord Bishop Udeogu of the Afikpo Diocese of the Anglican Communion.

Nze Magnus reiterated his avowed commitment to promoting public good and being fair to all. He also thanked the clergy and the church for their continued support. 

[Chinemerem Onwuliri]: Remembering the Icon – Professor Dora Akunyili

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I remember with glee the Nigerian icon, courageous leader and Nation Builder, Professor Dora Akunyili. At a time where Africa’s leadership remains plagued by the “strong man syndrome”, were the only legacy left behind by leaders are ‘themselves’, This visionary built an important institution- the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC or The Nigerian FDA). A pharmacist, Professor Dora Akunyili, was a mentor, mother and an inspiration to me. We shared the same birthday (14th July) and I learnt a lot from her work ethic and enthusiasm for anything Nigerian. Interestingly, she will always be excited whenever we marked the birth date, particularly when I called in to wish her well. She had an unflinching loyalty to Nigeria and worked courageously for our country amidst great risk to her life. Through her instrumentality at the Nigerian FDA (NAFDAC), drug safety became a ‘front burner’ issue in Nigeria and drug Counterfeiters were put out of business. The result? Many lives were saved.

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When she became Minister of Information; She understood that the Nigerian brand was in danger of annihilation fueled by the wrong, international perception of our morality and founded on a concept similar to Chimamanda’s “danger of a single story” principle. She therefore started the process of rebranding Nigeria despite dwindling support from Nigerians themselves. On September 19, 2009, I was among the few Nigerians who saw the movie “District 9” screened in Abuja, Nigeria. The depiction by Neil Blomkamp and Peter Jackson of Nigerians as cannibals and prostitutes was at best gory. Disturbed by this, I thought the government needed to do something about this spurious portrayal of Nigerians by Hollywood and I sent Prof. Akunyili a text message describing the movie but not expecting a response from her. I was shocked that she immediately called back and invited me to give her more details about the movie.

On arriving at her residence the next day (20th September, 2009), it was obvious that she was offended and visibly angered by such denigration of Nigerians by Hollywood. Sadly, she was about to embark on an official trip to Jos, Plateau State for a broadcaster’s summit that Sunday afternoon, thus I would eventually end up scribbling some key points on a sheet of paper detailing the actual scenes in the movie. She would waste no time in openly condemning the movie and subsequently having the deplorable movie banned the next day in Nigeria. Indeed Our voices had not only been heard but were now amplified by the prompt, incisive actions of this Paragon who made it clear to the world that despite their insidious posturing, Nigerians will not allow themselves to be the butt of hollywood’s jokes.

Such was the icon whose life was cut short by Cancer yesterday. She will be dearly missed by all Nigerians irrespective of tribe, creed or political divide. Her respectable achievements live beyond her. Sadly, the cancer scourge is still with us and we must intensify all efforts to curb this public health crisis that is now a major killer in Africa.

Dr. Chinemerem Onwuliri writes from Amuzi, Ahiazu Mbaise, Nigeria.

[Laz Ude Eze]: Adieu Professor Dora Akunyili – Good Person, Great Woman!

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Adorable Dora,

I had to wait for 24hrs to see if the story of your death will be refuted but obviously it’s now a sad reality one must accept. I received the news with mixed feelings; saddened that we lost you at this trying time in our nation’s history – a time strong patriotic voices like yours is needed. Pained that we can’t have a “Senator Dora” who would have pushed for a legislation that would provide appropriate punishment for killers who deal in fake drugs; and other policies that will strengthen our health system. At same time, I’m glad that in your life time, you demonstrated integrity, passion, courage and patriotism in discharging your national assignments. Your commitment to positive change was incredibly admirable. We may not be able to quantify the many lives you and your team in NAFDAC saved. Coming to the National Conference to contribute, for the last time, to national development was also a notable move. I’m glad you’re a role model to many young women and men who want to make positive impact in this country. You are one of those who have proven that public office is not only for the bad guys and don’t always corrupt good people.

A couple of years ago, I asked my fiancee who her role model in public service was, she mentioned your name. We both share deep sense of personal loss in your demise. Just as I met and saluted Madam Oby Ezekwesili recently for her courage and patriotism, I looked forward to meeting you to tell you how much of an inspiration you have been to me and many other Nigerians. Alas…that day never came. This photo says it all; even public officers who purchase awards haven’t been able to get this many. You fought hard to remain here with us, but perhaps our creator needs you at his right hand side this time. God bless your soul, Dora. And may God strengthen your husband and my senior colleague – Dr Chike Akunyili, your children and all your loved ones this difficult time.

With tears in my eyes, I celebrate you. Adieu Professor Dora Akunyili – Good Person, Great Woman!!

#Choice4Life: 20 Things You Need to Know about the History of #VAPPbill

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ImageThe rising incidents of rape, killings and various forms of violence against persons in Nigeria have led to increased advocacy for the speedy passage of Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill (#VAPPbill) by the National Assembly. I’m so proud to be a leading member #Choice4Life Advocates – a group of young Nigerians who are advocating strongly for the passage of this bill and a reform of abortion laws to allow for informed choices in pregnancy cases arising from violent situations such as rape or incest.

First introduced in National Assembly 12 years ago, VAPP Bill has had a chequered history. Here are some bits you may need to know.

  1. #VAPPbill was 1st presented to NASS as the Violence Against Women (Prohibition) Bill on May 28, 2002.
  2. It was sponsored by the then Chair of the House Committee on Women Affairs, Hon. Florence Aya
  3. #VAPPbill was published in the Legislative Gazette in May 2003, at the tail end of the tenure of the Legislature
  4. In 2003, legislative process on #VAPPbill was commenced afresh.
  5. In commemoration of the 2004 International Women’s Day, a Legislative Consultation on the Bill was held on #VAPPbill.
  6. The sponsorship base of #VAPPbill was also expanded with the support of the then Speaker, Hon. Aminu Bello-Masari and over 45 others
  7. In May 2005, Technical Committee on legislative matters and other stakeholders deliberated the modalities for the passage of the #VAPPbill
  8. It was agreed that the Bill needed to be harmonized with other related Bills on Gender Based Violence and modifications made.
  9. In 2006/2007, #VAPPbill was however stalled in the face of the turmoil of tenure extension in NASS.
  10. In 2008, #VAPPbill returned to NASS, the “Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Bill 2008” was presented to the Senate.
  11. The Harmonized #VAPPBill was formally presented to the House of Representatives again on 9th December 2009.
  12. On 30th June 2010, #VAPPBill passed through its first reading in the House of Representatives.
  13. The #VAPPBill equally passed through its 2nd reading in Feb 2011 but yet again failed to be passed as NASS tenure ended.
  14. On the 16th November, 2011, the #VAPPbill was re-introduced to the 7th NASS, House of Reps under the lead sponsorship of Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa.
  15. Hon. @abikedabiri had emerged by consensus as new sponsor of #VAPPBill on 9th November, 2011; Bill sent for gazette 21st November 2011.
  16. #VAPPBill was gazetted on the 7th February, 2012; 1st reading on the 8th February 2012; 2nd reading on 21st June, 2012.
  17. Third and final reading of the #VAPPbill was done in HoR on 14/3/2013 & was then transmitted to the senate for concurrence.
  18. #VAPPBill has undergone the 1st reading at the senate and the leadership of the senate has assured of speedy consideration.
  19. #VAPPBill has undergone the 1st reading at the senate in March 2014 and the leadership of the senate through the Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba has assured of speedy consideration.
  20. #VAPPbill has been listed for Second Reading multiple times but yet to be read for the second time in the Senate.
    If you are bothered by the spate of violence in Nigeria and wants a policy that may help to mitigate it, please lend your voice to the quick passage of #VAPPbill and provision for informed choices of women in cases of unwanted pregnancies arising from sexual violence.

Laz Ude Eze is a public health physician, global health ambassador and the Team lead of #Choice4Life Advocates. He tweets @donlaz4u

#BringBackOurGirls Family Responds to Purported Police Ban on Protests

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PRESS RELEASE
 
Re: Purported Ban on All Protests on the Chibok Girls in FCT by Police Commissioner 
 
We are members of the #BringBackOurGirls Abuja Family, a citizens movement advocating for the speedy rescue of the over 200 girls abducted from Chibok Secondary School, Borno state. Ours has been a single-issue campaign for the safe return of the abducted girls. In the last 34 days we have done so through peaceful daily sit-outs, and some marches to key governmental actors urging them to act swiftly to rescue the girls from the terrorists.
 
Earlier today we received with shock the statement credited to the FCT Commissioner of Police Joseph Mbu that “…All Protests on the Chibok Girls is hereby banned with immediate effect…”
 
We wish to remind the Commissioner of Police Mbu that he cannot take any action that violates our Constitutionally guaranteed rights as citizens, particularly our rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, amongst others as enshrined in Chapter Four (Section 40) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended).
 
We are puzzled about the inconsistencies in the communication emanating from the Nigerian Police. We recall that on 12th May, 2014, the Nigeria Police Force on its website published a news item with the title: “Police Not Against Peaceful Assemblies” in which the Inspector-General of Police, M.D. Abubakar restated the commitment of the Nigeria Police Force to the protection and enforcement of the fundamental rights of citizens.
 
Over the last 34 days, we have been widely acknowledged, including by the Police and the Federal Government delegation, which represented President Jonathan at one of our meetings for the peaceful, disciplined, and decorous manner we have always conducted the activities of our movement. In consonance with our approach, we shalltomorrow be in court with our lawyers, Femi Falana SAN to file a suit challenging this purported ban by C.P. Mbu.
 
In the interim, we shall not hold our sit-out tomorrow 3rdJune, because we shall be accompanying our lawyers to the Court where we hope to obtain an immediate restraint on this unconstitutional, undemocratic and repressive act. Our Movement is legitimate and lawful and cannot be arrested by the police whose responsibility is to enforce, not betray the law.
 
We, the members of the #BringBackOurGirls Abuja Family, remain   resolute and will persist in using all lawful means to sustain our peaceful advocacy for the safe rescue of the Chibok Girls. We therefore encourage all those in Nigeria and other Nations that have similarly taken a stand for the cause of the girls to continue to do so with the clarion call: BRING BACK OUR GIRLS, NOW AND ALIVE!!!
 
Signed:
Oby Ezekwesili and Hadiza Bala Usman
 For the #BringBackOurGirls Abuja Family
 
 
Editor’s Note: I’m a member of the #BringBackOurGirls Abuja Family; I endorse the statement above and will continue to stand with the traumatized  Chibok Girls and families.