Shameful five minutes to Nigeria’s international airport

A section of Lagos Airport Road

A section of Lagos Airport Road

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor
When on July 16, 2013, Dickson Lee, a Briton arrived in Nigeria via the Murtala Mohammed International Airport for the first time to take up an employment with an oil firm, he was prepared for the culture shock that would assault his eyes and mind, but what he never prepared for was his forceful abduction for five days by armed men on the international gateway’s road by Mafoluku.
Although his kidnappers were waiting for any prey, Lee immediately became an instant target once the black Sportage SUV he was in was spotted. But the kidnap was easy for Lee’s abductors due to deplorable state of the road, particularly before Junction bus stop. At the spot, the three-lane road has been collapsed to one, with more than half of the section waterlogged and riddled with car-wrecking potholes.
But if the Briton’s kidnap did not draw concerned authorities’ attention to the five minutes of shame that is Murtala Mohammed International Airport Road, the downpour days after the incident, which has left a sour taste in the mouth of motorists and commuters, and exposed the ineptitude of government, has made it one of the most dreaded roads in Lagos, especially at night.
LAG 4

Weeks after a banquet was held at Aso Rock, the seat of government in Abuja to unveil a new tourism brand identity tagged Fascinating Nigeria, there is absolutely nothing fascinating about the nation’s window to the world, the first five minutes from the Lagos international airport.
To anyone visiting Nigeria, either for the first time or as a returnee, coming in through the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos is the top choice ahead of Abuja and Port-Harcourt. Whether going to a five-star hotel in Ikoyi or wherever in Lagos metropolis, you can’t avoid passing through this eyesore of a road.
LAG 5

This is definitely not how other countries in Europe, the Americas, the Caribbean and Africa welcome visitors. The road to and from Nigeria’s busiest international airport, accounting for more than half of her foreign flights and the first point of contact with the country’s road infrastructure by any visitor, is reflective of the shamelessness of the country’s leaders and their lack of pride in the Nigeria Project.
This is more disturbing when one draws a parallel with one’s home. No matter how unpleasant, dirty, poor or untidy one’s home might be, for most people with any self-worth, the sitting room or “parlour”, which visitors and guests see, is usually tidied up, arranged pristinely and presented nicely to give a good impression. This is notwithstanding the state of the rest of the house.
Successive governments have lost all sense of shame that they cannot see the eyesore that this stretch of less than five kilometres of road has become. Airport roads, in even the very poor countries, are well tarred, pothole-free, lined with trees and well lit with functional streetlamps. The Lagos airport road is anything but all of the above.

THE DIFFERENCE IS CLEAR: Jomo Kenyatta International airport road, Kenya

THE DIFFERENCE IS CLEAR: Jomo Kenyatta International airport road, Kenya

This, unfortunately, is another symptom of the cantankerous relationship between the federal and state governments. The Lagos government was keen and willing to carry out the necessary repair works on the road to enable the state showcase the nation’s crown jewel, but because of seemingly rigid federal laws, the state is grossly disempowered to take any action.
The state governor, Babatunde Fashola, in a recent chat with newsmen, blamed the deplorable state of the airport road on politics. According to him, both the road and the airport belong to the Federal Government.
He said the state government’s failure to either rehabilitate or reconstruct the road was due to issues that had been politicized. The governor regretted his decision not to modernise the 4.2km road when the idea first struck him, recalling that his plan was to expand it, provide service lanes and introduce tolls for motorists who opted to use the fast lanes.

THIS IS LAGOS

THIS IS LAGOS

 

THIS SHOULDN'T BE LAGOS

THIS SHOULDN’T BE LAGOS

It is not only Fashola, who is bemoaning the shame that is the airport road. Former Cross Rivers State Governor, Donald Duke and a group of local and foreign businessmen have also added their voice to the lamentation. They spoke at the Nigerian Tourism Investors Forum held in Lagos.
Duke said it would be difficult for Nigeria as a country to attract foreign investors and tourists if nothing was done about the poor state of the Lagos airport. “The first thing that hits anyone who comes to Nigeria is the airport. The airports are in a very bad state. After leaving the airport, the next thing is the traffic gridlock, and then the environment. So if we as a nation want to improve the tourism sector, we have to touch everything, including the airport.
“We are not asking for a Dubai-type of airport in Lagos. All we want is a clean and decent environment. Nigerians are the most welcoming and most friendly people in the world, but the unpleasant sight of petrol tankers, garages, police checkpoints, potholes and uncultivated trees and bushes cast us in bad light.”

‘This Is A Step Forward To A Bigger Dream’ – 2013 UNILAG Inter-faculty Debate Champion

By Tope Templer Olaiya

For Mary Adegunloye, 200-level Mass Communication student of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), winning is everything, most especially doing it on a big stage. And there is no bigger stage at the first-rate university than being the champion of the annual inter-faculty debate.
At least, till the end of the 2013/2014 session, apart from the cash prize of N50,000 and a high-tech laptop, she strolls the turf with the bragging right as the university’s chief orator. Temitope from Clinical Sciences came second, while Osas Odiase, from the faculty of Engineering, finished third.
Beaming with smiles after being announced as winner of this year’s debate, which was competed among 13 faculties, Mary told The Guardian that winning the contest was a dream come true and a step forward to realizing a bigger dream.

Mary Adegunloye

Mary Adegunloye

“Debating is something I always love doing, so it gives me a sense of satisfaction doing what I love doing and doing it well. For me, the bigger picture is making a mark in future in the media world and this will help build my confidence, charisma and relationship with people,” she said.
The debate was an intellectual platform to discuss issues pertaining to the Nigerian situation and this year’s topic was Sovereign National Conference (SNC): Is it desirable at this stage of Nigeria’s development.
Mary supported the motion and her argument went thus: “The SNC is an assembly of all ethnic nationalities in Nigeria to discuss the national question, which is the basis of our existence as a single entity. The end result of it is dialogue among the various ethnic groups. In 1914, we were amalgamated and not integrated.
“Another issue to be discussed at the SNC is our constitution. We need to draft a constitution that truly reflects the values and aspirations of the people. ‘We, the people of Nigeria,’ was not a part of the 1999 constitution in the true sense of the word. We also need to define our federal structure. What we practice at the moment is centralized federalism, which is a contradiction. It is either a central system or a federal system.”
DSC_0160

The ongoing industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), according to her, is not cool. “While some students are praying for it not to end to catch up on their reading, others are looking at the time wasted.
“For instance, our mates at the University of Ilorin are not on strike and by the time they would be graduating, we may still be in 200 level. The delay is a clog in the wheel of progress of the country’s educational system. The strike has since lost its relevance in forcing the hand of government to their demands,” she noted.

Mary with UNILAG Deputy VC, Prof. Duro Oni (left), Dean of Student Affairs, Prof. Amud (middle) second and third place winners

Mary with UNILAG Deputy VC, Prof. Duro Oni (left), Dean of Student Affairs, Prof. Amud (middle) second and third place winners

Despite the noise about the dwindling standard of education, Mary beats her chest that it is not the case with the classy Unilag. “Academic in Unilag is very competitive, which is why only the best end up being students. It is like war gaining admission into Unilag. So, you can find a 300-level student here who can’t compose a simple letter.”
What about having the school renamed Moshood Abiola University in the nearest future? It was a sharp remark that followed. It is not happening to Unilag. It can’t just happen.”

That there may be light

Firms rescue Nigerians from darkness with biomass power pallets

President of Bioenergy and Envirocycles, Mr. Ernest Onyenze (second left), director of Strategic Initiatives, All Power Labs, Tom Price (left) and others during the public demonstration of biomass power pallet in Lagos.

President of Bioenergy and Envirocycles, Mr. Ernest Onyenze (second left), director of Strategic Initiatives, All Power Labs, Tom Price (left) and others during the public demonstration of biomass power pallet in Lagos.

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor
It sounds too good to be true, but a United states-based company, All Power Labs (APL), in partnership with Bioenergy and Envirocycles Nigeria Ltd, last weekend demonstrated a pioneering technology for making renewable energy from biomass (waste), which left hundreds of participants awed at how simple solutions could end decades of power failure and unfulfilled promises in the country.
The presentation held to a select audience in Lagos demonstrated the new, commercially available source of energy generation based on biomass gasification. Like the often quoted saying that good things come in small packages, this wonder machines called Power Pallets, looks like medium-sized generating sets and are available in 10kW/25KVA and 20kW/38 KVA sizes.
This power generation converts woody biomass to electricity and heat. The Power Pallet is distinguished by its ease of use, compact size and affordability. Unlike regular alternative energy sources like solar, which is complex to install and use, and generating sets, which require considerable use of gasoline like petro or diesel to function, the Power Pallets makes on demand energy anywhere there is available biomass, such as nut shells, wood chips, coconut husks, corn cobs, sawdust, poultry litter, sugarcane bagasse, straw and rice husks.
According to the founder and president, Bioenergy and Envirocycles Ltd, Mr. Ernest Onyenze, “this initiative is the key that will unlock a robust transformational change in the social economic landscape of Nigeria. The value chain will impact positively on the poor and the unemployed youths.
“Our mission is to move this country forward via small-scale electricity generation at very low cost. It is possible to get electricity to the rural areas and to all artisans since so many people’s livelihood depend on power daily. It is a shame that artisans sleep or play away productive man-hours as they wait in vain on the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN). This will definitely reduce their income,” he said.
SAM_0616

Just last week, in a move akin to asking Nigerians to pay more for darkness, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) announced an increase in fixed electricity charges (Multi Year Tariff Order) for 2012 to 2016. According to the chairman of NERC, regardless of the services rendered, energy cost will continue to go up every year till 2016.
This, Onyenze said would be worsened by government’s proposed bid to sell the power plants to private investors. “Once the power plants are sold off in their privatization of the sector, power tariff would go up further. Our intention is to work with electricity vendors who would purchase the power pallets and service residential estates, markets, villages and cooperatives with 24 hours electricity at a minimal cost to running generators.
“We want to take this technology to our campuses and colleges of technology, so that in the nearest future, we can have graduates who would be self-reliant working on the equipments by distributing and installing the device. A lot of rural electrification projects are moribund because they need to be connected to the national grid, but with the power pallets, it is a straight generation to homes and settlements.”
The programme is tailor-made for cooperative institutions, hospitals, SMEs, organized artisans, and individuals, who not only require power, but cheap and competitive power that will bring cost of production low. The initial cost of the power pallet is high, but its running cost is very low.
SAM_0626SAM_0620

Presently, aside installation and after-sales services, the landing cost of the 38KVA power pallet to Nigeria is N5 million, while the 25KVA machine is N3.5 million. However, Bioenergy and Envirocycles is offering some marketing options such as getting banks to issue bank guarantee for private individuals to pay their electricity bill monthly using the pallet.
“How this works is that once we have your bank guarantee, we sell kilowatts to individuals for private usage at N16 per watt and we send you an invoice of your power usage at the end of the month. You can regulate your power usage and as well be guaranteed 24 hours electricity. PHCN’s current charges is N20 per watt and cannot be relied on for your power needs, while maintaining a generating set has its added costs.”
On his part, the director of Strategic Initiatives, APL, Tom Price, said there is an extraordinary opportunity of a waste-to-wealth campaign converting easily available biomass into affordable, renewable, reliable energy in the country. He added that the use of biomass for energy production is a key component of the new ‘Power Africa’ initiative announced by US President, Barack Obama, early this month.
“The initiative will invest up to $7 billion in US aid and resources to help African nations gain more access to electricity. The demonstrations in Nigeria follow on the heels of a very successful similar event in Monrovia, Liberia, sponsored by Winrock International and USAID. The Power Africa programme aims to double power access in the sub-Saharan part of the continent, which would not only help residents, but also convince private sector companies to increase in new economic ventures in the region,” he said.

The growing audacity of insanity in Lagos

By Douglas Anele
Some psychologists believe that human beings manifest some level of insanity. That is very true, because every individual experiences strong emotions, which usually precipitate irrational behaviour. Persistent existential deprivations that characterise the human condition in Nigeria right now is particularly conducive to insanity. Last week, on a lovely Monday morning, I went to buy some pre-recorded compact disks at Yaba. It was difficult to find somewhere to park my vehicle because virtually all the parking lots around were full. After driving for about fifteen minutes, I was able to squeeze my jeep behind another vehicle along Montgomery Street. When I came out of the vehicle, I noticed that it extended beyond the white line on the ground.
However, before leaving I made sure it did not obstruct traffic in any way. After purchasing the CDs I wanted, I went back to my vehicle. As I entered, I discovered that the driver’s door would not open properly. I tried to free it from the obstruction by driving backwards a little bit. Moments after, with the engine still running, I tested the CDs one after another to ensure they are okay before leaving.
I looked up when I heard a knock on my window. A man wearing a reddish-brown or maroon coloured uniform (let us call him Mr. A) signalled me to wind down the driver’s window and I complied. He said I have committed an offense by packing my vehicle beyond the white mark on the ground. Politely, I told Mr. A that the engine was running and that my jeep did not obstruct the road at all. As we were arguing, his colleague (Mr. B) joined him, and after a brief exchange between three of us, both men decided that my alleged offence deserved punishment.
Meanwhile Mr. A brought a camera and took a photograph of my jeep. He threatened that if I refuse to comply with their directives, he would bring a tow van to remove the vehicle to their office in Adekunle. To cut a long sad story short, they tricked me into driving to their office. As I drove through the gate and entered a compound that looks like a makeshift garage, a man who called himself Hon. Muyiwa who claimed to be Chairman House Committee on Works approached me. He entered my vehicle and insisted that I must pay a fine of twenty-five thousand naira. I tried to reach an amicable settlement with him because I thought that as a legislator, Muyiwa is likely to be more reasonable than the others are.
However, I was wrong. I pleaded with him that as a university teacher, I would not deliberately disobey traffic rules and regulations, that the so-called offense I committed is insignificant, and that he should use his discretion to let me go. He refused. Instead, he threatened to deflate my tires, recommend that I should go to a designated place for psychiatric examination, and refer my case to “headquarters.”
I felt humiliated and angry. How could a purported member of Lagos State House of Assembly who, judging by the low intellectual quality he displayed while we were arguing, is not even qualified to sit in my Master’s class, be the one to recommend me for psychiatric evaluation? Even after explaining that lecturers are on strike and that it is necessary to conserve funds because the federal government might stop our salaries, Muyiwa “the oga at the top” remained adamant.
At this stage, there was a hot exchange of words between him and me. Muyiwa angrily accused me of disobeying the law, and boasted that he is the leader of a task force established by the state government to apprehend and punish offenders. He ordered a vulcaniser to deflate my front tyres. I was thinking of what to do and wondering why Lagos State government created another outfit to deal with traffic issues when LASTMA is still functioning – then it occurred to me to call Ade Ipaye, a colleague and current Logos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice.
Luckily, he picked my call and his timely intervention saved me from further embarrassment. The entire horrible episode lasted for over one hour. Afterwards, a few friends and colleagues I told my ordeal narrated their own ugly encounters with the same people. It is quite distressing, I must admit. For quite some time now, Lagosians have been complaining bitterly about unwarranted incessant harassment by KAI and LASTMA officials and all sorts of miscreants-in-uniform. But the government has not done anything concrete to address the complaints.
The level of intimidation and embarrassment is unacceptable. People are now afraid to drive their cars because different officials claiming to work for government fabricate excuses to extort money from them. Concerted efforts of the state governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, and his lieutenants to increase the internally generated revenue base of Lagos State are commendable. Nevertheless, must ordinary citizens be harassed, intimated, and oppressed just because government is trying to raise additional funds? Officials of LASTMA, KAI and others constantly cajole, insult, bully, and threaten people in order to extort money from them.
Of course, some of them are nice and reasonable: only the bad ones, the “animals in uniform,” enjoy inflicting pain and suffering on Lagosians. Their uniforms intoxicate them to the extent of megalomania. Given the crude and uncouth manner of KAI and LASTMA officials, qualifications for employing staff for these outfits should be strengthened. In other words, the qualifications must be tightened to minimise the influx of miscreants and undesirable elements into the system.
I believe that politicians create most of these outfits to resettle and create jobs for thugs they used during elections to capture power. But this approach usually boomerangs, with devastating effects on the society, as is evident in the emergence of Niger Delta militant groups and Boko Haram. To repeat; there is an urgent need for thorough overhaul of the employment procedure of KAI, LASTMA and so on.
The reform must include adequate training for those employed to improve their emotional intelligence, appreciation of civilised conduct, and respect for human dignity. It is extremely important that government officials dealing with the public in whatever capacity must learn to treat people with respect, and exercise discretion whenever it is necessary to do so.
The stress of living in Lagos is already very high and health threatening. It is not the business of government under any guise to increase it by empowering all manner of insane people to intimidate and extort money from law-abiding citizens. The insane audacity of miscreants masquerading either as LASTMA, KAI, and task force officials is going out of bounds. We are supposed to be operating a democratic system which requires that government officials no matter the situation must respect the citizens.
I suggest that Governor Fashola should take a hard or critical look at his internal revenue generation strategy and come up with appropriate and effective ways of eliminating the jarring highhandedness of government officials running the system. I hereby express my sincere gratitude to Ade Ipaye for rescuing me from predators-in-uniform. He is a good man indeed!

How plane crash victims survived for 72 days eating their dead friends

plane_crash_victims+_urvive_after_eating_their_dead_friends
16 plane crash victims remained alive for 72 days until being rescued by eating their dead friends’ bodies, a victim told the news media.

Forty years since the accident that changed his life forever, Dr. Roberto Canessa still vividly remembers having to eat the flesh of friends to survive.

He was one of 16 men who escaped death when their chartered plane crashed in the desolate Andes mountains between Chile and Argentina on October 13, 1972. It took 72 days until they were rescued after Dr. Canessa, then a 19-year-old medical student and another survivor wandered for 10 days to get help.

Today, the Dr. dedicates his life to others, but has never forgotten the moment he became cannibal and ate the flesh of one of the dead passengers.

He told the news media: “It was disgusting. Through the eyes of our civilized society that was a disgusting decision. My dignity was on the floor having to grab a piece of my dead friend in order to survive.

But then I thought about my mother and wanted to do my best to see her again. I swallowed a piece and it was a big step, but nothing happened.”

Dr. Canessa, now a top pediatric cardiologist, was one of 45 passengers, including his Christian Old rugby team, flying aboard the Uruguayan Air Force 571 when it hit a mountain wrapped in fog while flying from Santiago to Montevideo. Twelve men died on impact, five more in a matter of hours and then one more a week later.

Tragedy struck again after 17 days when an avalanche killed eight more passengers. The survivors had little food and no source of heat in the harsh conditions at over 3,600 meters or about 11,800 feet altitude.

Faced with starvation and radio news that the search for them had been abandoned, the remaining passengers started eating the dead passengers whose bodies remained preserved in the snow.

Rescuers did not learn of the survivors until 72 days after the accident, when Nando Parrado and Dr. Canessa, began to seek help and stumbled upon Chilean Sergio Catalan, who gave them food and then alerted authorities.

Their harrowing story was told in the 1993 film Alive, but the real-life trauma of his last weeks in ice still haunts Dr. Canessa. He recalls that the cold in his bones was like scissors cutting into them.

He said: “We were in a lifeless environment with only snow and stars. We were in a place not meant for humans to survive.”

15 years on the throne, Ojoola seeks more development for Ejigbo

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor

Ojon of Ejigbo, Oba Moruf Adekunle Ojoola

Ojon of Ejigbo, Oba Moruf Adekunle Ojoola

At Ifoshi road, housing the palace of the Ojon of Ejigbo, Oba Moruf Adekunle Ojoola, July 6 was not an ordinary day. The day started and ended as an Owambe special for friends, associates and subjects of the traditional ruler, who rolled out the drums for the 15th anniversary of his ascension to the throne.
Surrounded by traditional rulers, chiefs, community leaders and high-ranking officials of Ejigbo Local Council Development Area (LCDA) led by the Chairman, Kehinde Bamigbetan, Ojoola excitedly reminisced on the journey of the last 15 years.
According to him, a lot of developments have occurred in Ejigbo during his reign to be thankful for. “There is nothing in life without its good and bad side. But in our case the good has overshadowed the bad. This gladdens our heart because God has been by our side. There is nobody on this earth that will be liked by everybody. Whoever is liked by the world is already a dead man.
“During the last 14 years, a lot has taken place. There was no bank before my ascension, but today, we have over 20 banks in Ejigbo. It was during this period we were given an LCDA. We now have a customary court and several police stations, unlike the single police post that served the whole of Ejigbo before. The only major road we had was the Isolo-Ikotun road, but construction is ongoing at Ejigbo-Ajao link bridge and at Idimu road,” he said.
Ojo

While appreciating the support received from former chief executives of the state, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (Rtd) and Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu, he called on the incumbent, Babatunde Fashola, to bring more developmental projects to his domain.
“Tinubu is our own and he is ours, as confirmed by the recent chieftaincy title of Aare Ago (Field Marshall of Supreme Eminence) conferred on him and his wife by the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo.
“Fashola is trying. No matter people’s expectations, government is a continuum, no single person can finish it and you cannot satisfy everybody; but our elected representatives should strive to do their best for the people.
“Ejigbo needs government’s urgent intervention in many areas. We have for long been marginalized and it is high time we are compensated for the long years of neglect, especially with good roads that will stand the test of time. And for the local government, any road project must be given to quality engineers. They should not be in a rush to do so many roads that won’t last. The next administration will continue from where they stop.”
Canvassing support for President Jonathan, Ojoola urged Nigerians to be patient with him as he is human battling challenges on many fronts. “We voted for Jonathan to experience change, because we all saw ourselves in him, as a young man with a past we could associate with and who understands where we are coming from, but we have not seen the transformation. He, however, needs our support to actualize the change he promised.”
The monarch’s advice for residents is for them to abide by the rules of the land. “It is all for our own good. Even if we have to disagree, we can protest responsibly. And for government, when they want to make new laws, we should be consulted so we can add our inputs. Not the usual style of inviting us to a stakeholders’ meeting after the decision has been reached.
For instance, the okada law is good. There is no family that does not have a member who has been a victim of okada accident or robbery. It is, however, a good means of employment. What it requires is to work within the ambit of the law, like using helmet, not carrying more than one passenger and not plying restricted routes. Not everybody would go to school and acquire MSC, PhDs to live conveniently.”

Ojoola (left) and other Lagos Obas at his coronation anniversary

Ojoola (left) and other Lagos Obas at his coronation anniversary

Chief Akinwande Aguda, the Agba Akin of Ejigbo, described Ojoola as a detribalised Nigerian, who has the interest of the community at heart. “Anybody can say a lot of things about him, but it is only when you move close to him that you will discover he is truly humane. I am from Abeokuta, yet he made me a high-ranking chief.
“My relationship with him predates his ascension to the throne. I live around the pipeline area and he made me the head of the monitoring team for the NNPC pipeline from Ejigbo to Idimu to ensure it is not vandalised. Since I have been given the task, there has never been any incidence of such.”
Vice Chairman of Ejigbo LCDA, Monsuru Bello, also used the occasion to call for more state projects in the council area. He said Ejigbo has suffered over 50 years of continuous marginalisation, especially when it was under Oshodi-Isolo local government administration.
“This is the reason why any incumbent must work extra hard to fill the gap. If you are coming from Isolo or Okota, immediately you climb the bridge at Oke-Afa, your perception changes. It is not because we are sleeping; rather our efforts are little drops in an area that never got government’s attention or intervention until recently. More so, our people’s expectations are expectedly high and the resources at our disposal are not enough to do the job.”
Taiwo Adebayo, Special Adviser to the chairman on Chieftaincy, Boundary and Cultural Affairs, said the monarchy structure is so effective in Ejigbo. “The oba’s relationship with the council is cordial. On several occasions, he has had to send his chiefs to reach out to the people on the importance of paying their taxes, making them know that paying tax is their obligation to the government.”

Free health mission excites Ekiti residents

• As US doctors hail Nigeria’s cheap organic foods
By Tope Templer Olaiya

It’s still two years to 2015 election, but the frenzy at Ekiti Central senatorial district between June 15 and 28 could be likened to a political rally of sorts. The mammoth crowd had gathered to benefit from a two-week mission, which provided free healthcare services to over 8,000 citizens.
The medical team, comprising seven United States-based healthcare providers and two local medical doctors began the mission at the Ewi of Ado’s palace before moving to Ijero. By the end of the outreach, the team had touched Ipoti, Aromoko, Okemesi, Ikogosi Warm Spring Tourist centre, Igede, Are-Ekiti, Efon and Ado-Ekiti, leaving behind sweet tales of succour and relief.
These strings of communities across several local government areas were beneficiaries of the free health mission facilitated by their representative at the green chamber of the National Assembly, Senator Babafemi Ojudu.
Monisola Oladaye, a woman leader in Efon Local Government Area of the state was delighted to have been a beneficiary. According to her, the free health programme was helpful to many, who have feared going to hospitals for check-up because of money.
“Many of our people do not have the money to visit hospitals and buy prescribed drugs. Ojudu has saved many lives through this and I wish it can be repeated, may be annually. It is happening exactly as we witnessed it during Awolowo’s era.”

Erelu Bisi Fayemi (left) waiting to be attended to during the health mission

Erelu Bisi Fayemi (left) waiting to be attended to during the health mission

For Otunba Adeyemi Olufemi, chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN) in Irepodun/Ifelodun LGA, the free health mission is like a miracle. “I have a swollen neck to the point I could no longer raise my right arm. My blood pressure is high. I have spent money seeing doctors, going for laboratory examinations and buying drugs but this problem has defied all medications.
“These foreign doctors just gave me two small tablets. They asked me to swallow one and put the other under my tongue. Within 24 hours, the swollen neck has gone down, my blood pressure is now normal, and I could raise my arm. For the first time in a long time, I slept well and even rolled off my bed, which is as big as Maracana Stadium in Brazil.
“I have since been wondering if the drugs I have been taking were poison. The least was N17,000 and some were as expensive as N25,000. I now realise that good health has nothing to do with the number of tablets prescribed, as we tend to believe here. I have suffered but I am now free. I used to have blood pressure of 180/110 and was taking drugs daily to manage it. Within 24 hours, I went down to 140/80,” he added.
The programme also left a lasting impression on members of the medical team. Dr. Shakirah Abdulhaqq, said Nigeria could have one of the lowest child mortality rates in the world if mothers are properly educated during pregnancy.
“Ignorance is the biggest reason for child mortality. I spent more time educating the mothers. The children are strong naturally and I believe it is because Nigerians eat a lot of organic foods,” she said, adding that Nigeria should not have unhealthy children.
“Many of the children are dehydrated and this can cause high temperature. All they need then is water, but the mothers give their children needless drugs instead. I noticed the women wear heavy clothing for their kids also. This is a hot climate and the kids do not need that.
“The weather here is almost perfect. You have good environment and eat a lot of organic food. In the US, we spend a lot to get organic, we eat lots of additives; but Nigerians are fortunate to have cheap organic foods here. The mothers need only to know how to detect dehydration, or what to look for in case of malaria and other cases,” she said.

Senator Babafemi Ojudu (right) in a chat with some of the medical team

Senator Babafemi Ojudu (right) in a chat with some of the medical team

Another doctor, Mary Clayton, said: “The people are strong and live long. I saw so many old people in their nineties and they are still strong. They could walk, see, talk and their activity generally do not reflect their age. In the US, people like that would have been in a nursing home and would be very sickly. The children also are very strong, almost not needing to see a doctor in their entire childhood.
“We pay to eat organically in America and that is costly. See, your children all have healthy teeth, which is now a problem in US. Many kids have cavities because they eat a lot of candies. In Nigeria, you have it right when it comes to food. Everything in our restaurant comes in big sizes, so you see the kids are overfed. I see many fast foods springing up, but I will say processed foods are not worth having.”
Impressed by the relative success of the mission, Ojudu promised to hold the outreach every year. “We intend to make this an annual event. I have acquired a 40-foot truck, which has been converted into a mobile clinic. We will employ healthcare providers that will be on the mobile clinic moving round the senatorial district to provide free health services, especially on market days.”
On the quality of drugs available in the country, he said: “It was shocking when I heard our people saying the imported drugs from US worked better. They found relief from long-term ailments. We can no longer doubt the fact that there is something wrong with the medications coming into Nigeria and I will make these observations known to the chairman of senate committee on health.”
The medical team, led by Dr. Abdulrasheed Abassi, rendered their services free though the senator provided logistics, which included feeding, accommodation, and travel expenses.