The Homosexuality Question in Nigeria

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The recent signing into law of the anti gay bill by the Nigerian president continues to generate diverse reactions from both within and outside Nigeria. Although, many western countries and right groups had condemned the new law, the support that came to the president from many segments of the Nigeria shows that Nigerians indeed support the new law. While those in the west condemn the law from human rights perspective, many Nigerians view and support it from moral perspective.

It’s unfortunate that some African countries have been arm-twisted into accepting or permitting homosexuality within their domains by pressure brought to bear on them by western countries, donor agencies and rights groups.  The courage shown by the Nigerian president in signing the anti gay bill should be commended. No people or nation can survive without good moral conducts and civility. To achieve this, laws like the anti gay law are necessary. What homosexuality only hopes to achieve is destroying very important institutions that are necessary for the survival of the society such as family and marriage.

Of what benefit is homosexuality to society? Today in Nigeria, incidences of child abuse are on the increase. The gay syndrome has even worsened the situation. It’s not uncommon to get reports of gays abusing children more often these days since these gays do not have many gays in the population to have ‘sexual’ relationships with.

It’s unfortunate that in some of Nigeria’s educational institutions, many un-guided youths are being lured into homosexuality due to financial enticement and poverty.  Back then, homosexuality used to be presented as an act the individual did not have control over but only discovered to be one. Now it is a life style with people being lured into it.  The quick spread and destructive impact of the syndrome surely demands the new Nigerian anti gay law.

The international community should respect the decisions of Nigerians concerning the new law on homosexuality. No country has the right to dictate to Nigerians on how best they should live their lives. The new law is indeed compatible with the rights to freedom to Nigerians as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution. No personal freedom is worth upholding that threatens or negates the collective interest of the Nigerian people. Homosexuality should not be an exception.

May the bombs drop soon

A foreign military intervention in Syria is long over due considering the genocide being committed against the civilian population by the blood thirty president of Syria.  It is unfortunate that the world had stood by watching helpless civilians face deaths by their thousands for the past two years in Syria. It is also unfortunate that countries like Russia and China are opposing a military strike by the US in Syria. All they care about are their personal interests and not the sufferings of the ordinary Syrian people, many of whom are now refugees and victims of chemical attacks by the forces of president Assad.

A military strike by US will send a very clear message to the regime in Syria that it can not continue with its business of ‘death engineering’ and blatant atrocities against the civilian population as the regime had done with its chemical attacks against civilians recently. it will also guard against another blood thirsty leader in part of the world deploying such deadly chemicals against civilians. Let the world support efforts by the US at checking the danger that Assad poses to his people. 

The International Court and the accusations against it

- Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have wondered why African leaders accuse the International Court of Justice of being biased against Africans. They accuse  the court of  prosecuting mostly Africans than people of other races. While this may seem true considering the number of Africans that had ended up in the Court, however, i think it is the failure of the judicial systems in many African countries that had allowed the Court to step in and demand justice for victims of human right abuses in these countries. The political will of demanding justice for victims of war crime in many African countries is lacking. For example, in Kenya, despite the many opportunities given to the Kenyan judiciary to prosecute those behind the killings in the post election violence, the system failed in its responsibilities, forcing the International Court to step in and demand justice for families of victims.

Despite what some African leaders  say against the International Court, I think the court should be commended for the few prosecutions it had achieved in recent times. Besides,  those so far convicted by the court have been shown to bear responsibilities for the atrocities that they had committed, by the Court. By criticizing the Court, are these leaders indirectly asking the Court to look away from the atrocities against civilians on the African continent? Many African leaders are not true respecters of human rights, perhaps they fear that the court could come after them in future and this explains why they detest the International Court and accuse it of being anti-African.Could the African Union have ever demanded that the likes of Bosco, Charles and other perpetrators of genocides and abusers of human rights on the African continent be brought to book? There is need for The African Union to work to strength democratic institutions on the continent. They should rather, support the efforts of the International court, rather than strengthen current and future abusers of human right on the continent.

To accommodate the worries of African leaders, the International Court should also its stretch nets on other countries and persecute human right violators there. A case in point is Syria and the regime there. One can hear the daily cries for justice amongst victims of atrocities in that country; crimes committed by the United States army in Iraq should also be investigated. Where there is war, there are human right abuses. Human right is for all people and concentration of the efforts of the International Court should not dwell on the African continent alone. The International Court should also remember that it holds responsibilities to all peoples of the world. It should not allow the institution to be used by world powers, particularly western powers as tool to witch hunt other political leaders  or major players in other countries who have refused to do the bidding of some of the world powers. Politicizing the activities of the Court would in deed strengthen the impression amongst people that the Court is a political tool of oppression for some powerful counties.

‘Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe’- Frederick Douglass

THE USE OF GROUP COMMUNICATION AS A TOOL FOR CAMPAIGN AGAINST MATERNAL MORTALITY IN NIGER STATE

by CHRISTIAN GLORIA

INTRODUCTION
It’s easy to get people’s attention, what counts is getting their interest- Philip Randolph
Communication, particularly verbal, occurs when one person speaks and another person listens. Health workers uses range of verbal communication skills to respond to questions, find out about an individual’s problems or needs, contribute to team meetings, break bad news, provide support to others and deal with problems and complaints. According to MDG-DRG Funded Midwives Service Scheme (2009), despite the intervention of international organisation, gaps still exist. These gaps range from infrastructure, access to services and human resource needs in many health facilities across Nigeria, there is shortage of skill attendants and this has been reported to impact negatively on utilization of services by women. Group communication refers to the communication that exists between two or more people. This type of communication can be used in health and social care, particularly to improve maternal health.

In group communication, women for instance are likely to open up to a social worker about issues if they are around people of similar situations. Different languages, cultures and psychological factors exist so not every social worker can understand verbally what their patients are complaining about in a typical group communication; therefore, effective communication and interaction play an important role in the work of all health and social care professionals. In doing this, health practitioners can employ range of communication and interaction skills in order to:

1. Work inclusively with people of different ages and diverse backgrounds.
2. Respond appropriately to the variety of care-related problems and individual needs of people who use care services.
3. Enable people to feel relaxed and secure enough to talk openly.
4. Ask sensitive and difficult questions, and obtain information about matters that might be very personal and sensitive.
5. Obtain clear, accurate information about a person’s problems, symptoms or concerns.
Group communication is essential in enabling the health practitioner to establish a good rapport with women before, during and after childbirth. Respect can also be shown to these women by paying careful attention to their complaints in a group as well as communicating to them in a language that they all understand. Doing this may result in effective interaction between the health worker and the group.

STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

As part of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), in order to reduce maternal mortality by three-fourths before 2015 and to achieve universal access to reproductive health, midwives were deployed to health facilities in rural communities to carryout community service aimed at facilitating reduction in maternal mortality. These midwives use various communication campaigns (like group communication, interpersonal communication and others) in carrying out this exercise in diverse communities within Nigeria. Yet, there is still low turnout of women in Niger state towards this communication campaign. Hence, maternal mortality remains an issue and women continue to encounter complications during childbirth at home. It is on this premise that this research was carried out empirically.

OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
Group communication may be common in the health sectors because care professionals tend to work in teams and in partnership with patients. Hence, this study would be guided by the following objectives:

1. To determine the use of group communication in the campaign against maternal mortality in Niger state.

2. To ascertain how effective this campaign is used in creating awareness among the community women.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS
This study will be guided by the following research questions;

1. How has group communication been used as a campaign against maternal mortality in Niger state?
2. How effective is this campaign in creating awareness among rural women within the community?

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

One of the factors that prevent women from receiving or seeking care during pregnancy and childbirth is lack of information (WHO, 2012). Hence, Niger State women are not left out in this problem. There are low efforts in Niger state at curbing this societal menace. This study is geared towards suggesting ways through which group communication can be used to carry out this enlightenment among the rural women of Niger state.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Group communication

Group communication, according to Collins (2011), is seen as a process of giving, receiving, and interpreting information through verbal and non-verbal expression. Effective communication occurs in a group when the speaker speaks and the message is interpreted by the members of the group receiving the message in the manner that the speaker intended sending and receiving messages which often takes place simultaneously due to the dynamic process of verbal and non-verbal communication. Collins (2011) also said group communication is either adaptive or maladaptive. Adaptive may include clarifying goals and the sharing of ideas, experiences, and feelings. Group communication that is maladaptive may include seeking to control the group by controlling the channels of communication, and avoidance of specific issues or persons.

According to Wood (2003:274) a group must have, “three or more people who interact over time, depend on each other, and follow shared rules of conduct to reach a common goal”. Wilson (2002:14) defines a group as, “a collection of three or more individuals who interact about some common problem or interdependent goal and can exert mutual influence over one another”. He goes on to say that the three key components of a group are, “size, goal orientation, and mutual influence”. Interpersonal communication can also be aligned with group communication because individuals may communicate inter personally in pairs.

Organizational communication might be thought of as a group that is larger than 12 people.
Group communication follows slightly different ‘rules’ to communication in one-to-one situations and can be seen as an extension of interpersonal communication. This is because information shared through interpersonal communication can be spread by an individual to a group and then the process continues. According to Collins (2011:6), group communication deals with a number of different people trying to speak, get their point across and their voices heard.
In the context of communication, Collins listed a number of benefits groups can have for participants:

1. A group can be an effective way of sharing responsibilities
2. Groups can improve decision-making and problem-solving because they draw on the knowledge and skills of a number of people
3. Groups tend to command more respect and have more power than an individual acting alone.
Furthermore, Collins (2011) highlighted a number of ways that can undermine the effectiveness of group communication if:
1. The power in a group is held by a single person or is misused by a small clique of people to dominate others and pursue their own agenda.
2. Power struggles and battles break out within the group, resulting in a loss of purpose and effectiveness.
3. The group loses sight of its main goal or purpose, drifting into a pattern of ineffective activity that doesn’t have a real benefit or outcome (holding meetings for the sake of meetings, for example) and people find it hard to speak and contribute effectively or to challenge aspects of the group’s thinking or practices. This can lead to poorly thought-out and unquestioned decisions being made.
Characteristics of Groups

1. Interdependence. To Lewin (1951), Cragon & Wright (1999) and Harris & Sherblom (2008) and, groups cannot be defined as a number of people simply talking to each other or meeting together. Instead, a primary characteristic of groups is that members of a group are dependent on the others for the group to maintain its existence and achieve its goals. In essence, interdependence is the recognition by those in a group of their need for the others in the group. For example, the group communication campaign in Niger state is interdependent when members of a group for maternal health recognise their needs from the needs of other members.

2. Interaction. For a group to be functional there must be interaction. Since communication is done on daily basis, there should be something that distinguishes group communication from other forms of communication and which is the issue of interaction. Cragon and Wright (1999:7) states that “the primary defining characteristic of group interaction is that it is purposeful. Furthermore, they break down purposeful interaction into four types: problem solving, role playing, team building, and trust building”. This means that without purposeful interaction, a true group does not exist. Pregnant women, for example, may want to interact with her fellow pregnant women or a nursing mother within a group. They might start by wanting to exchange their numbers, contact address and other information that may help in keeping them in touch.

3. Synergy. One advantage of working in groups, according to Harris & Sherblom (2008) is that it allows them to accomplish things they wouldn’t be able to accomplish on their own. For example, the group communication campaign carried out in Niger state gives room for pregnant women to be checked thoroughly by the midwives (like the heartbeat, position of the baby, etc) which ordinarily they wouldn’t have been able to do on their own.

4. Common Goals. Having interaction and synergy may be pointless in groups without a common goal. People who comprise groups are brought together for a reason or a purpose. While most members of a group have individual goals, a group is largely defined by the common goals of the group. In reducing maternal mortality, the group communication campaign carried out in Niger state has a common goal of reducing maternal mortality among women in rural communities.

5. Shared Norms. Because people come together for a specific purpose, they develop shared norms to help them achieve their goals. Even with a goal in place, random interaction does not define a group. Group interaction is generally guided by norms a group has established for acceptable behavior. Norms are essentially expectations of the group members, established by the group. The group communication campaign carried out in Niger state for example, has a norm that ensures every women (pregnant and nursing mothers) to be in attendance around 9: am on daily basis for health talk on maternal health.

6. Cohesiveness. One way that members understand the idea of communicating in groups is when they experience a sense of cohesiveness with other members of the group. When members feel like they are part of something larger, it creates a sense of cohesion or wholeness. It is the sense of connection and participation that characterizes the interaction in a group as different from the defined interaction among loosely connected individuals. In other words, when there is interaction, then participation is likely to occur. The group communication campaign in Niger state for example, enables women to participate by asking questions and contributions in the discussion.

Types of Groups
Not all groups are the same or brought together for the same reasons. Bilhart and Galanes (1998) categorize groups on the basis of the reason they were formed and the human needs they serve.

1. Primary Groups. Primary groups are ones we form to help us realize our human needs like inclusion and affection. They are not generally formed to accomplish a task, but rather, to help members meet their fundamental needs as rational beings like acceptance, love, and affection. The group communication campaign in Niger state for example, enables women (pregnant women) to feel loved, affection and acceptance in the society mostly when they interact with their fellow pregnant women.

2. Secondary Groups. Secondary groups are formed to accomplish work, perform a task, solve problems, and make decisions. Bilhart & Galanes; Harris & Sherblom; Cragan & Wright; and Larson & LaFasto (1989) state that secondary groups have a specific performance objective or recognizable goal to be attained; and coordination of activity among the members of the team is required for attainment of the team goal or objective. Bilhart and Galanes divide secondary groups into four different types.

i. Activity Groups. Activity groups are ones that are formed for the purpose of participating in activities. For example, the group communication campaign in Niger state enables women to participate in activities like strolling and walking as a recommended exercise enlightened by the midwife or nurses.

ii. Personal Growth Groups. Personal growth groups are formed to come together to develop personal insights, overcome personal problems, and grow as individuals from the feedback and support of others (Bilhart & Galanes). For example, the group communication campaign in Niger state on maternal mortality enables pregnant women to come together and share as well as overcome the problems they encounter during the stages of their pregnancy.

iii. Learning Groups. Learning groups are concerned primarily with discovering and developing new ideas and ways of thinking (Harris & Sherblom). For example, the Primary Health Care (PHC) in Niger state organise a group communication campaign solely for the purpose of educating the women on what to do and what not to do with the sole aim of reducing maternal mortality.

iv. Problem-Solving Groups. These groups are created for the express purpose of solving a specific problem. The very nature of organizing people into this type of group is to get them to collectively figure out effective solutions to the problem they encounter. In this type of groups, women for example, are brought together to collectively proffer solutions on how to prevent maternal mortality amongst women as well as establishing ways of preventing them.

For the purpose of this study, the category of group that is applicable in Niger State is the secondary group which is basically formed to accomplish work, solve problems and make decisions. That is to say that this category of group is formed in order to tackle maternal mortality among women of Niger state.

Importance of Group communication
When groups of like-minded people came together with shared commitments and goals, change may likely occur. Groups are used for social movement. For Bowers and Ochs (1971), without a sufficient group, the actions of individual protestors are likely to be dismissed. Group communication helps to unite people. The communication that occurs through the collective action of singing songs or chanting slogans serves to unite group members. The key to group success is the sustained effort of group members working together through communication.

Group communication plays an important role in one’s cultural identity and membership in the communicative choices and how the communication of others is interpreted. People may want to examine membership and communication in groups because different cultures emphasize the role of individuals while other cultures emphasize the importance of the group. For example, collectivist cultures are ones that place high value on group work because they understand that outcomes of their communication impact all members of the community and the community as a whole, not just the individuals in the group.

On the other hand, individualistic cultures are ones that place high value on the individual person above the needs of the group. For example, the group communication campaign in Niger state has both collective and individualistic culture. Collective because the outcomes of their communication impact on all members of the community, particularly those the information is spread to and Individualistic because each woman may place her needs above the needs of the group.

Power influences how an individual interprets the messages of others and determines the extent to which the person has the right to speak up and voice out concerns and opinions to others. For example, the group communication campaign in Niger state, an individual may harbor the following thoughts: Are some people essentially more powerful than I am? Do I consider myself to be a powerful person? The word “power” in this instance could literary mean “to be able”.
According to Starhawk (1987), he divided power into power-over, power-from-within and power-with. Power-over enables one individual or group to make the decisions that affect others, and to enforce control. Control can take many forms in the society.

Starhawk explains that power is wielded from the workplace, in the schools, in the courts, in the doctor’s office. It may rule with weapons that are physical or by controlling the resources needed to live like; money, food, medical care or by controlling more delicate resources: information, approval, love. People maybe accustomed to power-over that they may become aware of its functioning only when they see its extreme manifestations. If for example, in the group communication campaign in Niger state, someone dominates the group, makes all the decisions or controls the resources of the group such as money or equipment, this is known as power-over.

Power-from-within manifests when a person can stand, walk, and speak. That is, words that convey a person’s needs and thoughts (Starhawk, 1987). In groups, this type of power arises from a person’s sense of connection, bonding with other human beings and with the environment. As Heider (1997) explains that since all creation is a whole, separateness is an illusion. Power-from-within comes through cooperation, independence through service, and a greater self through selflessness. The group communication campaign in Niger state for example, while on the field, the researcher closely observed a woman who angrily sprang up and left the group discussion; probably because she wasn’t benefitting from the discussion.

Finally, groups manifest power-with, which is the power of a strong individual in a group of equals, the power not to command, but to suggest and be listened to, to begin something and see it happen (Starhawk, 1987). For this to be effective in a group at least two qualities must be present among members: first, all group members must command respect and equality for one another, and secondly, the leader must not abuse power-with and attempt to turn it into power-over. For example, been in a group where members do not treat each others as equals or with respect is a good example of power-with.

Why groups are formed
Communication maybe seen as the central activity of every group depending on how the group is formed, organised and maintained. Individuals may have both positive and negative stories to tell about being in groups, but how they are formed is an essential aspect to be considered. Sometimes, people join a group because they want to and not necessarily because they have an objective to attain. Either way, Lumsden and Lumsden (1986) gave three reasons why groups are formed.

First, groups are formed because people want to share similar interests or attractions with other group members. In health care, groups that share similar interests or attractions are being formed. For example, groups that campaign against HIV/AIDS discrimination, maternal mortality and other health related issues are formed to share similar interests or attractions. These groups may share similar interest and attraction when it comes to touching and affecting people’s life.

A second reason a group is formed is called drive reduction. People may join groups so that their work with others may help them to fulfill their needs. As Maslow (1970) explains, people have drives for physiological needs, security, love, self-esteem, and self-actualization. Working with others may help in achieving these needs thereby reducing their obligation to meet these needs themselves. For example, using the group communication campaign in Niger state, an individual within a group may decide to carry out a campaign against women victimization, if she accomplishes the task successfully for the group, it’s likely her group members may compliment her work, thus fulfilling some of her self-esteem needs.

A third reason a group is formed is for reinforcement. We are often motivated to do things for the rewards they bring. Participating in groups provides reinforcement from others in the pursuit of goals and rewards. For example, a group of women may successfully carryout a campaign against maternal mortality and other prevailing health issues, the group may likely be rewarded by NGOs, government, international organisations as well as other operating organisations. By this, the group fulfills the purpose of reinforcement.

Group stages
Most groups go through series of stages as they come together. These stages as listed by Tuckman (1977); Fisher (1970) and Harris & Sherblom (2002) are called forming, storming, norming, and performing. Groups formed to achieve a task may go through a fifth stage called termination which may occur after a group accomplishes its goal.

1. Forming: For a group to exist and work together its members must first form the group. During the forming stage, group members begin to set the parameters of the group by establishing what characteristics identify the members of the group as a group. During this stage, the group’s goals are made generally clear to members, initial questions and concerns are addressed, and initial role assignments may develop. This is the stage when group norms begin to be negotiated and established. For example, when the group communication campaign in Niger state was at the forming stage, it started gradually with interpersonal communication approach, then some women became aware of the campaign and the benefits before the group began to form.

2. Storming: The storming stage maybe used to compare the “first fight” of a romantic couple. After the initial politeness passes in the forming stage, group members begin to feel more comfortable expressing their opinions about how the group should operate and the participation of other members in the group. Given the complexity of meeting both individual goals as well as group goals, there is constant negotiation among group members regarding participation and how a group should operate. For example, using the group communication campaign in Niger state, after the forming stage, there were controversies among the women as regards to the topics to be treated. This is the storming stage.

3. Norming: As soon as a group survives a first fight, they may emerge on the other side of the conflict feeling stronger and more cohesive. That is to say that if a group is able to work through the initial conflict of the storming stage, there is the opportunity to really solidify the group’s norms and get to the task at hand as a cohesive group. Norming signifies that the members of a group are willing to abide by group rules and values to achieve the group’s goals. For example, using the group communication campaign in Niger state, rules were set that every community woman (pregnant and nursing mothers) should be in attendance every day at around 9.am and no talk will be repeated if she misses out.

4. Performing: Performing is the stage associated with the defining characteristic of groups. This stage is marked by a decrease in tensions, less conscious attention to norm establishment, and greater focus on the actual work at hand in order to accomplish the group’s goals. While there still may be episodes of negotiating conflict and re-establishing norms, performing is about getting to the business at hand. For example, using the group communication campaign in Niger state, immediately the group ‘kicks off’ its activities, it means it is at the performing stage.

5. Terminating: Groups that are assigned a specific goal and timeline may experience the fifth stage of group formation which is termination. Some groups terminate immediately they achieve their required assignment and earn a award. This is not to say that they do not continue relationships with other group members. But, the defining characteristics of the group established during the forming stage have come to an end and so has the group. For example, using the group communication campaign in Niger state, if the group decides to terminate its existence after attaining the goal of reducing maternal mortality to, let’s say 5%, then, it may decide to terminate operation.

Group roles
People participate differently in a group so; group communication is the focus on the roles that is played in groups. Knowing the various roles played in groups can help in understanding how to interact with various group members. Twenty five commonly played roles in groups exists, according to Sheats & Benne (1948) and it is further divided into three types—group task roles, group building and maintenance roles, and individual roles. In later research, Ketrow (1991) uses only two categories of group roles—task and social/emotional roles, while Jensen and Chilberg (1991) describe thirty-four roles in groups.

For the purpose of this study, Sheats & Benne (1948) and Ketrow (1991), group roles are categorized into four: task, social-emotional, procedural, and individual. Task roles are those that help or hinder a group’s ability to accomplish its goals. Social-emotional roles are those that focus on building and maintaining relationships among individuals in a group. The focus is on how people feel about being in the group. Procedural roles are concerned with how the group accomplishes its task.
People occupying these roles are interested in following directions, proper procedure, and going through appropriate channels when making decisions or initiating policy. The final category, individual roles, includes any role ‘waves off’ from group goals and emphasizes personal goals” (Jensen & Chilberg, 1991). When people come to a group to promote their individual agenda above the group’s, they do not communicate in ways that are beneficial to the group. It is important for group members to understand what kinds of roles they play in groups in order to engage in positive roles and to achieve their objectives.

Maternal mortality
World Health Organisation (2010) revealed that the annual rate of decline is less than half of what is needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of reducing the maternal mortality ratio by 75% between 1990 and 2015. This will require an annual decline of 5.5%. The 34% decline since 1990 translates into an average annual decline of just 2.3%. Hence, 100 still die a day and more needs to be done to achieve sets targets. According to Umar (2012), the chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC) Mr. Eze Festus stated that maternal morbidity and mortality rate are most commonly associated with high risk pregnancies and births and these includes too early pregnancies and birth by mothers under 18 years, too many or more than four previous births and too late pregnancies after the age of 35 years.

The number of women dying due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth has decreased by 34% from an estimated 546 000 in 1990 to 358 000 in 2008, according to a new report, Trends in maternal mortality, released by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Bank. The progress is notable, but the annual rate of decline is less than half of what is needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of reducing the maternal mortality ratio by 75% between 1990 and 2015. This will require an annual decline of 5.5%. The 34% decline since 1990 translates into an average annual decline of just 2.3% (WHO, 2010).

The new estimate shows that it is possible to prevent many more women from dying. Countries need to invest in their health systems and in the quality of care. “Every birth should be safe and every pregnancy wanted,” says Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, the Executive Director of UNFPA. “The lack of maternal health care violates women’s rights to life, health, equality, and non-discrimination. MDG5 can be achieved,” she adds, “but we urgently need to address the shortage of health workers and step up funding for reproductive health services.” (WHO, 2010)

UN agencies, donors and other partners have increasingly coordinated their assistance to countries. WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA and the World Bank are focusing on the countries with the greatest burden and help governments to develop and align their national health plans in order to accelerate progress in maternal and newborn health. “Maternal deaths are majorly caused by poverty. The costs of childbirth can quickly exhaust a family’s income, bringing with it even more financial hardship,” says Tamar Manuelyan Atinc, Vice President for Human Development at the World Bank. “Given the weak state of health systems in many countries, we must work closely with governments, aid donors and agencies, and other partners to strengthen these systems so that women gain significantly better access to quality family planning and other reproductive health services, skilled midwives at their births, emergency obstetric care, and postnatal care for mothers and newborns.” “We still need to do more to strengthen national data collection systems,” says Dr Margaret Chan, the Director-General of WHO. “It is vital to support the development of complete and accurate civil registration systems that include births, deaths and causes of death. Every maternal death needs to be counted,” she adds.

The UN maternal mortality estimates are developed in close collaboration with an international expert group and use all available country data on maternal mortality, as well as improved methods of estimation. The intensive country consultation carried out as part of the development of these estimates has been instrumental in identifying increased data collection efforts in recent years including the special systems to capture data on maternal deaths (WHO, 2012).

Pregnant women still die from four major causes: severe bleeding after childbirth, infections (such as Obstetric fistula), hypertensive disorders, and unsafe abortion. Every day, about 1000 women died due to these complications in 2008. Out of the 1000, 570 lived in sub-Saharan Africa, 300 in South Asia and five in high-income countries. The risk of a woman in a developing country dying from a pregnancy-related cause during her lifetime is about 36 times higher compared to a woman living in a developed country. “To achieve our global goal of improving maternal health and to save women’s lives we need to do more to reach those who are most at risk,” says Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF. “That means reaching women in rural areas and poorer households, women from ethnic minorities and indigenous groups, and women living with HIV and in conflict zones.” (WHO, 2010)

Theoretical Framework
The social judgement theory was used to explain this study. Social Judgement Theory was propounded by Muzafer Sherif and Carl Hovland in 1961. It is a communication theory that explains when a persuasive communication message is most likely to result in attitude change. The theory specifies the condition under which this change takes place and predicts the direction and extent of the attitude change. This theory is also known as Latitude of Acceptance and Rejection (Jonge, 2012).

Persuasion is a process by which people use messages to influence others. While persuasion typically uses information, the emphasis in a persuasive message is on influencing the receiver (rather than merely providing information and letting the receiver make up his/her own mind). Persuasion attempts to change minds or get people to act. According to Sherif (1961), the essence of this theory is to explain how attitudes (the stands the individual upholds and cherishes about objects, issues, persons, groups, or institutions) may change in the communication process. He added that the attitude change will be less likely to occur if the gap between an attitude a person already has and the attitude advised by the message is big.
Using this theory to explain this study, messages related to the need for women to visit health centers for obstetric care are communicated by the midwives (and nurses) to the women in group format or by a friend. Therefore, attitude change will occur if the woman (the message is being communicated to by midwives and nurses) accepts the message that concerns her maternal health.
The theory holds that any person hearing a message will position it on an attitude scales based on his/her personal judgment. Furthermore, Sheriff (1961) composed three different latitudes known as:

1. Latitude of Acceptance. This consists of opinions, beliefs and stands that are perceived as acceptable. In other words, it is the range of positions a person is ready to accept or agree the content of the message. In this latitude, change occurs. For example, messages that fall within this latitude can induce an attitude change in a pregnant woman to visit health centers for constant check up either for antenatal and postnatal care or to abide by the rules outlined by the midwife, nurse or a friend.

2. Latitude of Non-Commitment. It contains the range of ideas and opinions which is neutral or the person feels undecided or indifferent to the individual’s mindset. For example, messages that fall within this latitude can position the woman at the state of neutrality. That is, the woman may or may not accept the messages on the dos and don’ts during pregnancy being presented by the midwife, nurse or a friend-positioning her on a neutral state.

3. Latitude of Rejection. This is the area where an individual finds all ideas, beliefs, stands and opinions objectionable or unacceptable. The greater the rejection latitude, the more uninvolved the individual is in the issue and thus will be harder to persuade. Due to the contrast effect, idea present in this area tends to be perceived as more hostile then they really are. In this latitude, attitude change is therefore unlikely. Some women of Niger state, for example, may not accept the messages as to regards the needs to visit the hospital for antenatal and postnatal checkup or to abide by the outlined rules communicated by the sender (who is either the midwife, nurse or a friend whose attitude may have fallen within the latitude of acceptance) no matter how hard the sender tries to persuade the receiver.
O’Keefe (1990) affirms that only understanding the person’s latitudes of acceptance, rejection and non-commitment will permit one to understand the individual’s reactions to persuasive messages on the issue.

METHODOLOGY
Key informant interviews method was used for this study. Key Informant Interviews, according to Johanna (2013) are interviews conducted with key individuals within the community, schools, etc. Key Informant Interviews provide a researcher with detailed, qualitative information about impressions, experiences and opinions. In the course of this study, the researcher interviewed four stakeholders-one midwife, a nurse, a pregnant woman and a nursing mother. The interviews were conducted at Comprehensive Primary Health Centre at Paikoro local government area of Niger State.
This Primary Health Center is the only health center covering the whole wards and the population of attendants was ranging from 15-20 women within the 7days this research was conducted. This local government was chosen based on balloting. The questions were posed to them at different occasions and each reacted in her own way. Since this study concerns women, the researcher deemed it necessary to interview women on the issue. The questions were drawn from the research questions, as posed by the researcher earlier in this study.

In addition, participatory observation was used by the researcher. Participatory observation, according to Macionis & Plummer (2005), refers to a form of research methodology in which the researcher takes on a role in the social situation under observation. The social researcher immerses herself in the social setting under study, getting to know key actors in that location in a role which is either covert (the social researcher participating fully without informing members of the social group of the reasons for her presence mainly in secret) or overt (the researcher being open about the reason for her presence in
the field of study since the researcher is given permission by the group to conduct her research).
The aim is to experience events in the manner in which the subjects under study also experience these events.
Macionis & Plummer (2005) added that researchers who employ participant observation as a research tool aim to discover the nature of social reality by understanding the actor’s perception, understanding and interpretation of that social world. Whilst observing and experiencing as a participant, the researcher must retain a level of objectivity in order to understand, analyse and explain the social world under study. In carrying out this research, both the covert and the overt type were used. That is, the researcher sat amongst the women as a covert participant observer after informing the management the purpose of the research. The essence of using this methodology was to detect some information that the respondents were shy to talk about or may not want to divulge at all.

Analysis
A skilled health worker (doctor, nurse or mid-wife) at delivery is critical to reducing maternal deaths (Okeibunor, Onyeneho & Okonofua 2010). Using group communication campaign as a tool against maternal mortality in Niger state, in fulfilling the goals of MDG5, midwives were assigned to various primary health cares, particularly in rural communities to assist women with obstetric aimed at reducing maternal and child mortality. Midwives assigned to these rural areas educate the women on the need to visit the health centers for checkup so as to avoid complications during and after delivery. A midwife was observed by the researcher addressing them in English while a nurse stood beside her, interpreting in Gwari and Hausa language. Maternal health issues were discussed and educated by the midwife on duty. Issues like; what to eat, what to wear, exercise to embark on and how frequent they should visit the health center for antenatal and postnatal care were critically discussed.

Another topic raised (in concise sentences) by the midwife (named Vivian) that made the women to observe a total silence and a display of self pity was ‘Obstetric Fistula’. The midwife read from a sheet of paper kept on the table. The researcher quotes:
Obstetric fistula is one of the major causes of death among pregnant women. Obstetric fistula is a hole in the birth canal caused by obstructed labour. Every year, between 50 000 to 100 000 women worldwide develop obstetric fistula. Women who experience this condition suffer constant urinary consistence which often leads to social isolation, skin infections, kidney disorders and even death if untreated.
But it can be prevented by: delaying the age of your first pregnancy; avoid using traditional methods in delivery and always come for check up so that we can dictate it on time.

There are other causes like; bleeding after childbirth, infections, unsafe abortion and hypertensive disorder. If you don’t want to experience all these things I mentioned, try to come for check up when you are pregnant and after delivery. Avoid delivering at home because if complications occur, we may not be there to assist you which can lead to your death. Also try to inform others whom you know have never visited the hospital to also come for check up so as not to experience these things.
While the midwife educated them, the women were attentive. They asked questions relating to the topics discussed, which the midwife answered. During the course of the study, the researcher also asked questions (as a participant observer) which was answered by the midwife.

Interviews
Aside the participatory observation, interviews were conducted. A nurse, the midwife and two women were interviewed.
Nurse
How do you think group communication have been used as a campaign against maternal mortality in your community?

Sarah spoke:
We try to gather them in one group here in the health center. We talk to them by teaching them what they should know and what they should do including the need to come here for checkup. We also remind them to inform their friends and loved ones who have not visited here to come as well. On our own part, we the nurses, we organise health talk for them on daily basis either by us or the midwives posted to us.
How effective is this campaign used in creating awareness among the uninformed women?
Women are responding to this campaign, but not much. We try to inform the women on attendance to inform and invite their friends and relations, including their neighbours. On market days, we don’t hold this meeting because we don’t want to be the cause of any woman not fending for her family.
Midwife
How do you think group communication have been used as a campaign against maternal mortality in your community?

Vivian spoke:
Just like you saw, they are really responding. We started with one person who came the next day with three women and subsequently. Before you know it, this place became a group of over ten women both pregnant and nursing mothers.
How effective is this campaign used in creating awareness among the uninformed women?
With time, I hope that women within this community will respond rapidly to this intervention. We usually have inconsistent number of attendance either on the increasing side or on the decreasing side. This is the central and only primary health care in this local government and some women live very far from this place so it might not really be easy for them to come over here.

Woman A
How do you think group communication have been used as a campaign against maternal mortality in your community?
Mariam, a pregnant mother of one spoke:
We started with small number of people. We sit together and share our problems and fears. I learn from a problem shared by a colleague and once the midwife answers the question, I learn from it so I might attend this meeting more than two weeks without asking any question because my problems had been solved with frequent questions and answers that may concern me. Before now, I never attended this even for once. I had my first child at home and it wasn’t easy and I am hoping to have my second child soon. But now, I see the benefit and I have invited more than five women here…
How effective is this campaign used in creating awareness among the uninformed women?
Creating awareness is another thing and the response of women is entirely another thing. I don’t see the effectiveness of this campaign to the fullest because for those that don’t have the money, not every woman can afford to trek the distance and for those that have little, they cannot afford to waste it on transport. This place is too far to organise this type of campaign.

Woman B
How do you think group communication have been used as a campaign against maternal mortality in your community?

Grace, a nursing mother spoke:
Through this campaign, the risk involved in pregnancy is reduced and women try to gather here every day for this health talk.
How effective is this campaign used in creating awareness among the uninformed women?
In fact, I was invited and I invited two other women. I was invited when I was pregnant and I had my baby here. To some extent, it is effective because some women are becoming aware by the day. But you know Ninja…well. This health clinic is far from where some women reside so this campaign may not really be effective to them because they are not carried along.

Findings
From the participatory observation and the interviews gathered, it was discovered that:
1. the only group communication campaign available is the gathering done by women in the central primary health center (which is far from the main town) and addressed by midwives and nurses on shift,
2. the attendance record fluctuates on daily basis, that is, high attendance in a day and low attendance on the next day,
3. though the campaign was aimed at creating awareness for the women to visit the health centers for proper care before, during and after delivery, the turn up of women were low in most cases-these group of women fall under the latitude of rejection as stipulated by the theory,
4. the campaign seems strenuous on the part of the midwife particularly when she has to speak and wait for her statement to be interpreted by the nurse and vice versa,
5. the women in attendance showed interest, attention, acceptance and some level of conviction during the discussion exercise-these group of women fall under the latitude of acceptance,
6. to some extent, group communication campaign is not effective for the fight against maternal mortality. Since the gathering is done in the central primary health center situated miles away from the main town and villages, not all women are reached out-these group of women fall under the latitude of non commitment.

RECOMMENDATION
Below are the recommendations of this study:
1. Dr Margaret Chan, the Director-General of WHO stated; “It is vital to support the development of complete and accurate civil registration systems that include births, deaths and causes of death. Every maternal death needs to be counted,” hence, there is need for accurate and daily statistical documentation of data on maternal mortality in Nigeria.
2. Other communication campaigns (like midwives visiting homes for interpersonal contact, contacting the women on phones and posting of adequate midwives to other health centers and not necessarily the primary health care within the community) should be put to place in communities to enable those women (pregnant and nursing) who are far from the primary health center to acquire the basic attention, assistance and information needed for their health.
3. Much importance should be placed by health personnel on the use of group communication in curbing maternal mortality because it can be seen as an easy way of dialoguing with more than one person at a time.

CONCLUSION
Group communication approach to maternal mortality can assist the midwife to meet the needs of more than two women at the same time. In a group communication, women are able to learn from other women’s experience through discussions, questions and answers as well as contributions shared from experience. To some extent, group communication may be disadvantageous because it may give little or no room for privacy since women are gathered in group. Incorrect ideas maybe shared amongst themselves in a group and the ideas may cause havoc to some women because they feel shy to raise their fears and desperation openly. With the efforts of international organisations, there is still more work to be done if the goal of MDG5 is to be achieved. More serious campaigns need to be carried out and various communication approaches needs to be put in place to curb this menace.

REFERENCES
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Cragan, J. F., & Wright, D. W. (1999). Communication in small groups: Theory, process, skills (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Umar, S. (2012). Nigeria’s Maternal Mortality Ratio, 545 per 100,000 Births. Online Leadership Newspaper. Retrieved on February 18, 2013 from http://www.leadership.ng/nga/articles/29568/2012/07/12/nigerias_maternal_mortality_ra tio_545_100000_births_npc_boss.html

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Harris, T. E., & Sherblom, J. C. (2008). Small group and team communication (4th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
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Macionis, J.J & Plummer, K. (2005). Sociological: A Global Introduction. Third Edition. Prentice Hall. United Kingdom

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Okeibunor, J. C, Onyeneho, N. J & Okonofua, F. E (2010). Policy and Programs for Reducing Maternal Mortality in Enugu State, Nigeria. African Journal of Reproductive Health. 14(3): 19.

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Sherif, M., & Hovland, C. I. (1961). Social judgment: Assimilation and contrast effects in communication and attitude change. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

THE PAINS OF BEING A CIVILIAN

Have you heard the term, ‘bloody civilian?’ this is how men in uniform in many parts of the world often refer to civilians. Perhaps there may be a substitute term where you come from, but reference in meaning remains the same.  I have often wondered why civilians are perceived in this derogatory way by arm bearing men; it does not matter whether these armed men are in a gang of militia, in a country’s security service, a bunch of rebels or the police.  As long as the bear arms, civilians often bear the brunt of their anger or quest for dominance.  In many wars around the world, civilians fall into the highest figures in terms of casualty rates even though they bear no arms against any one. Reason for this, is because of how civilians are perceived by these violent men.  Imagine murdered civilians been described as collateral damage or been counted in estimates and numbers with no trace of human essence in them.  Imagine the figure of lost civilians lives in Syria, Congo, and in many troubled spots around the world and the murders and extra judicial killings that occur in many ‘peaceful countries’ of the world, perpetuated by police and blood thirsty men.

Shouldn’t members of the security forces be subject to civil authorities? Are they not supposed to safe guard the lives they now exterminate with impunity?  Why were the armed forces and other paramilitary organizations created? Is it to protect and serve the people or serve the leadership of a country in which they were created? I have often wondered why those, whom we have placed arms in their hands through the hard earned money we pay for taxes and through our collective resources, turn around and use the same arms to dominate and kill us at will.

Why are civilian lives not worth much? A dictator goes power mad, he turns against his people; a gang of rebels and men of fortunate thirst for a share of power and they target civilians as they shoot their way to the capital; a bunch of religious fundamentals go further extreme and they blow their way to heaven through the lives of civilians; police becomes lords and they lord over poor civilians. To be a civilian, what a cruel fate!

Should every man be armed and cease to be a civilian? Then he can protect his life and defend his dreams? For no man is killed that easily when he can protect himself.  If all become active men of a force, who then shall grow food, build the economy or pay taxes for guns and other weapons? The point here is that civilians’ lives are also important and should be respected.

What has become of human Rights and the laws that guide the use of arms? Why do military and Para-military authorities often seek to protect their own by covering up for their own’s evil crimes? A civilian is dragged to a police station, tortured and then murder and the authorities tell us the victim committed suicide in his cell; after that, justice is never served and the murderer continues to walk freely and kills more.

Many countries talk gladly of how disciplined their forces are and how greatly Geneva law crazy their forces are? But under the cover of no prying eyes, one would be shocked at what evils these forces could do against civilians. I pray that the day will come when civilian lives will matter, when their rights will be respected and when justice will never be delayed or denied. I pray a day will come when men in uniform will recognize that that which they swear to defend and protect is not just a mere geographical territory but the lives that dwell in such a territory.

 

Dealing With Set Backs

Dealing with set backs especially those never anticipated is often difficult. Some set backs come with painful lost time which may perhaps require weeks or months to recover; while some might never be regained. Accepting lost time and lost efforts or even resources that are drained by painful set backs is often not easy. However, one still has to move on. At times, one is often faced with the choice of either abandoning the project or continuing with it. Abandoning projects due to set backs or immediate failures is often the first psychological reaction to painful set backs or intense personal failures. At times like that, one needs to encourage oneself in order to move on. If one can get emotional support from well-wishers, the better. Hope often comes from encouragement from others.

The world does not care much about your failures. It see through the efforts you have made. It know whether you had given your best or not. But note, it only celebrates those who finally succeed at their great tasks. I encourage you to strive unto success. Set backs are only temporary, they shall pass. Let one look unto the crown of glory that waits one upon successfully attaining the best or hoped results from that which one seeks to accomplish. The walk through the road of success is difficult. You shall walk to the end of it for you have what it takes to accomplish that in you.

CHALLENGES OF CITIZEN JOURNALISM IN KADUNA STATE

The media and communications landscape has been transformed in ways that make it possible for envisioning a more engaged citizen participation in journalism. The spread of Internet and mobile telephony has also led to participation in citizen journalism in Africa. Citizen Journalism is a rapidly evolving form of journalism where common citizens take the initiative to report news or express views about happenings within their community. It is news of the people, by the people and for the people.

In Nigeria, citizen journalism is on the increase. More Nigerians are now blogging on the internet, Nigerian bloggers, blog on different areas of interests. Their sites offer alternative source of news and information to citizens. However, the practices of blogging are not without challenges. To determine the challenges confronting internet bloggers in Nigeria, this researcher undertook a convenience sampling of opinions from fifteen bloggers on challenges confronting bloggers in their practice in Kaduna state, which is a region in Nigeria. Analyses of respondents’ responses on the issue revealed the following as some of the challenges they face:

(i) Internet Access:
All respondents identified this to be a great challenge to them. They indicated that acquiring data subscription for use on personal internet wireless modems to enable them go on line cost much. Some indicated that because they sometimes need to leave town for other personal issues and not all areas of the state have access to internet connection offered by telecommunication companies servicing the state, they cannot conveniently update their web pages on the go. Close to that is the poor internet connection. Some stated that poor service delivery by telecommunication companies they depend on for internet connection affects their blogging activities as they are often faced with constant internet connection disruptions. Most of the respondents stated that these problems affected their ability to be on line often.

(ii) Time to update content:
All the respondents stated that they struggle to devout time to blogging activities due to other personal activities that also need to give time to. Some indicated that they have go to work so as to earn a living. Many of them do not manage their blogs with other persons, so bear the sole responsibility of updating their blogs alone. The respondents indicated that due to the time management challenge, their blogs suffer as sometimes the blogs are not updated with contents for days and even weeks. The respondents stated that this affected their ability to be dependable as sources of information to their audiences.

(iii) Creating content:
Most respondents stated that generating content and finding new contents for their blogs is a constant challenge. Some respondents stated due to this, they many times, re-blog contents from other news blogs or other news websites. Due to many of the respondents are not journalists by profession, they barely find time to go after news stories. A study of some of the news blogs showed that many of them had more of news commentaries and feature articles. The respondents stated that as a result of this, members of their audiences are forced to find alternative other sources of information.

(iv) Problem of power supply:
All respondents identified this as the greatest challenge they had to contend with as citizen journalists in the state. They stated that the problem of constant power disruptions is was de-incentive to the practice of Citizen Journalism in the state. Some respondents stated that sometimes due to power disruptions, they were not able to go on-line on their personal computers for days. This also hindered their ability to continually update contents on their blogs as often as they would have wished.

(v) Access to information:
Many of the bloggers especially those that were not journalists by profession stated that getting first hand access to information on news stories or events that occur outside their immediate environment was difficult for them as they did not have the financial resource or time to cover such news event or get more information on such news event or other public issues. As a result of this they resort to monitoring coverage of such issues from major national on line news out lets and other blogs that have the resources and access to such information. Many of the respondents indicated that issues, they at times reported, lacked depth and freshness because the information they were reporting had already been made available by other major news outlets, especially on events out the immediate locality of the respondents.

(vi) Verifying information:
Some of the respondents stated that apart from news events that occur within their immediate environment whose information they can easily verify before publishing them on line; they at times find it very difficult to thoroughly verify information on news events outside their immediate environment before publishing due to constraint of distance and resources. The best they could was to monitor other on line news websites that they considered as reputable sources of information and re-blogged news contents from them. The respondents also sated that it was also difficult for them to cross check facts from these major news sources and they might likely to end up publishing wrong or incorrect information.

When a Lady Says NO

Despite centuries of men being around women, the female folks have still remained a puzzle to men. It is not unusual to hear a man announce in frustration that he just can’t understand women. In the gatherings and chats of men, talks on women abound. Some ill informed men have even assumed experts on the opposite sex and often try to unravel mysteries about women to their fellow men.

Often, one gets questions from men, like, ‘if a woman says no, does she really mean it?’ On a question like this, you are sure to get various views backed by instances of experiences from men. But when a woman says no to a man’s advances, does she actually mean her objections? There may be no fast rule answer to this question. For I seen ladies who said no, no and no to some of my friends’ advances and later turned around and said yes. I bet you many men would come up with varied answers to this question. Though unfortunate, it is not uncommon for some men to describe women’s way of reasoning as ‘chicken kind’. This mentality to greater extent influences how some men view women’s responses.

It is also true that many men would say that when a woman says no to a man’s advances be sexual or for short or long time relationship, she might indirectly be saying yes. However, this mentality amongst men is sure responsible for many cases of rape of women around the world. Some men just can’t take no for an answer from women to their sexual advances and in turn rape them and then later justify it by stating that the women led them on even though these women had verbally declined such sexual advances especially at the time or at all the times they were made.

Many men have had this idea that rapes are most times perpetuated by strangers who often lurk around dark alley waiting for unsuspecting women to take advantage of. Statistics have shown that 74 percent of sexual assaults are perpetrated by assailants well known to their victims. Approximately 28 percent of rape victims are raped by their husbands, 35 percent by an acquaintance, and 17 percent by a relative other than spouse. This shows that majority of rape cases are carried out by men who do not respect the wishes or opinions of their women or any other woman, it doesn’t matter the kind of relationship they have with these women.

When a man assumes that a no means yes, a lot can go wrong. Statistics shows that 1 in 15 rape victims contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD) as a result of being raped. 1 in 15 rape victims become pregnant as a result of being raped. United Nations statistical report compiled from government sources around the world showed that more than 250,000 cases of male- female rape are recorded by police annually.

Rape is not just about un-wanted sex, rape is all about violence. It is a highly traumatic experience and like other serious traumas, it has negative effects on those who survive it. Besides rape, there are many other forms of violence that result from the unwillingness of men to respect the views or wishes of women. There is nothing wrong for a man to desire a woman perhaps for a relationship. However, if everyman chooses to become violently aggressive to actualize that which he desires with a woman, I assume that the female folks would long have become extinct.

To woo a woman and realize that wish one wishes from a woman with her consent is very possible. It is important that one doesn’t get wrong information about how a woman thinks or responds. Relying on myths and stereotype that are spreaded around by ill informed men for information about women, will get one the wrong results. A woman is a human being. Every human is unique in interest, how he or she thinks and how he or she deals with others. It is very important one learns to learn and understand how the other thinks and other marks about the other’s personality.

There are many good books on understanding the general psychology of women. These books offer informed scientific information on questions that have puzzled some of us about women. It is better to be informed and get the results one desires than dwell and act in ignorance and destroy the lives of others and perhaps end up in jail due to poor judgment of how a woman thinks.

Safe water and sanitation in Nigeria

- BY Jide Ojo.

Day after day, day after day,

We stuck, nor breath nor motion;

As idle as a painted ship

Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, everywhere,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, everywhere,

Nor any drop to drink.

—From the Rime of the Ancient Mariner by English Poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge

This poem paints the picture of the water situation in Nigeria. The late iconic Afro Beat musician, Fela Aniikulapo Kuti, in one of his classics said, ‘Water, he no get enemy’. Water is essential to life as roughly 70 per cent of an adult’s body is made up of water while health specialists are of the opinion that while one may stay off food for some time, it is impossible to stay off water for too long. Otherwise one will become dehydrated and die. The availability of safe drinking water in Nigeria is very appalling. It is saddening that many Nigerians have to bear the burden of sourcing their own water for domestic and industrial use. Urban centres do not have adequate chlorinated pipe-borne water while rural communities have to depend on streams, rain and well water for their water need.

Minister of Water Resources, Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe, in an address during the launch of Safe Water for Africa recently said, “Current statistics of our water coverage in Nigeria are not very pleasing as only 58 per cent of the population have access to safe drinking water.” Water and Sanitation Summary Sheet from the United Nations Children’s Fund revealed, among other facts, that access to safe water and sanitation was a major challenge in Nigeria and that water and sanitation coverage rates in the country were amongst the lowest in the world. Moreover, Nigeria is currently not on track to reach the Millennium Development Goals targets of 75 per cent coverage for safe drinking water and 63 per cent coverage for basic sanitation by the year 2015.

A desk study carried out by the Water and Sanitation Programme shows that poor sanitation costs Nigeria N455bn (US$3bn) each year. Statistics shows that 70 million Nigerians use unsanitary or shared latrines while 32m have no latrine at all and defecate in the open. Nigeria is said to rank third on the list of countries with inadequate supply of water and sanitation coverage globally. The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Water Resources, Mr. Godknows Igali, reportedly said at the 11th Session of Development Partners Coordination Meeting that the World Health Organisation and UNICEF Report for 2012 ranked Nigeria third behind China and India as countries with the largest population without adequate water and sanitation.

This situation has led to high incidence of waterborne diseases such as dysentery, diarrhea, typhoid fever, cholera, river blindness, and Hepatitis A, among others. Available statistics also show that more than 3.4 million people die every year from water, sanitation and hygiene-related causes. Ninety nine per cent of these deaths are said to occur in developing countries. Water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through diseases than any war claims through guns. In fact, experts claim that lack of access to clean water and sanitation kills children at a rate equivalent of a jumbo jet crashing every four hours.

It is not as if government has been folding its arms, though. In January 2011, the Federal Government launched the water road-map, a blueprint that describes the government’s objectives in developing the nation’s water resources between 2011 and 2025. The plan includes the promises that 75 per cent of Nigerians will have access to potable water by 2015, and 90 per cent by 2020. With the launch of the plan, President Jonathan’s administration announced the availability of special intervention funds for several projects. They include drilling one motorised borehole in each of the 109 senatorial districts, rehabilitating 1,000 dysfunctional hand pump boreholes in 18 states, supplying and installing 10 special water treatment plants, and completing all abandoned urban/semi-urban water supply projects. All of these and more were to be completed within 2011, with officials describing them as “a quick measure to accelerate water coverage”. Going to two years now, most of these short-term targets have not been met, though a number of projects are on-going.

The Director of Water Quality and Sanitation in the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Dr. Obioha Agada, recently disclosed that Nigeria had recorded 40 per cent sanitation coverage, up from 32 per cent that had spanned two decades. In spite of this however, 70 million people in the country still lacked access to improved sanitation. In a March 2012 article, Ameto Akpe of Pulitzer Centre on Crisis Reporting, observed: “Nigeria, in the past two decades, has not been able to keep up with the global and regional average rate of increase in water coverage. For the Nigerian government to deliver on its promise of 75 per cent coverage by 2015, access must increase by 17 percentage points within the next three years.”

According to experts, in overcoming the challenge of water and sanitation in Nigeria there are issues of legislation, structure, finance, planning and attitudes to contend with. Significant annual investments are needed to address water and sanitation problems in the country. The MDG Office says $2.5bn (about N375bn) is needed to meet the nation’s water and sanitation targets between 2011 and 2015, while government notes that an extra N200bn is further required to provide additional development in Dams with hydropower components amongst others. The idea as presented by the Federal Government, experts observed, is to fund the water road map via direct public and private sector financing, in which, budgetary appropriations as well as cost sharing arrangements with states, local councils and communities would be the public proposed fund-raising approach, while private funding will be accessed via multilateral credit, loans and internally generated revenue. It is noteworthy that donor support to the water sector is estimated at less than three percent of needed resources.

Unfortunately, there has been a steady decline in budgetary allocations to water and sanitation. In 2010, the Federal Government budgeted N112bn for water and sanitation but by 2011, budgetary allocations had dropped to N62bn. For 2012, the budget for water is only N39bn. Mercifully, this has increased to N47.8bn in the 2013 budget. This, however, is still a far cry from the amount needed to make any appreciable impact. However, as the Water Resources minister recently disclosed, the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and its agencies appears to have been aggressively making efforts to tackle the problem of water supply through the water supply and sanitation reform programme with support from the European Union, the African Development Bank, the Chinese Water Supply Initiative, and the Japanese International Corporation Agency.

One hopes all these initiatives will bear good fruits and make access to safe drinking water and sanitation easy and affordable. However, our individual and collective attitude to water and sanitation facilities must also change. Oftentimes, we waste water that should have been conserved, refuse to pay water bills and sometimes vandalise water pipelines and borehole facilities. This is wrong. Even the way we dispose off water sachets and bottles as well as other solid wastes is unhygienic and should be changed.

Culled from Punch Newspapers.

The Lies Men Tell

Lies come cheap especially in men’s relationships with women. I wonder if there is any man who hasn’t told a lie to his woman. Some tell lies so often that you cant tell when they are actually speaking the truth. Why do some men feel comfortable telling lies to their women, even when it is said that truth sets one free?

Often times I hear men say that woman preferred to be told lies for women seem more comfortable with it than truth. Is this idea a product man’s evolutionary experience or liars just simply recruiting more liars? I remember the many times some of my friends had told lies to their women because they thought telling them the truth would be unpleasant for they were afraid to face the consequences of their actions.

While it is true that both sexes play the games of lies, are lies not harmful to our relationships especially with the one, one has sworn to be with till death do one apart? Can one regain trust lost as a result of discovered lies told by one? Especially to those who easily believe one because of their trust in one?
Should one continue with lies to hold onto a relationship? Is it really worth being called a love relationship? Perhaps one may have entered into such a relationship because of some selfish motivations. Or are there inadequacies that one seeks to hide by hiding behind lies?

The truth has a way of coming out especially when one makes a habit of telling lies. A relationship built on truth out lives one which is not. If we do that which we are supposed to do, would there be opportunities to tell lies? If we flee from the temptations that could harm our relationships, would there be something to cover up?

In relationships, it is important one creates environment that encourages ones partner to speak the truth without fear of retribution or rejection. How one responds to one’s partner’s openness, goes a long way in determining how forth coming ones partner will be with the truth next time. While we have the capacity to do that which is right or make right choices; at times, we do not due to weaknesses and we may end up doing those things that cause us to be ashamed of telling the truth.

Truth is a choice. It is a product of the decision one makes. Unfortunately, there are those who have made a habit of telling lies. You never can tell where you stand with them on any issue. I feel sad for those whom have found themselves in relationships with these kinds of persons. Can one tell the many times they had cheated on one? The many broken promises? The true intentions they hold for one?

I hope we learn from the many broken relationships around and avoid their pitfalls. Indeed making lies a part of the foundation, is one of the reasons why some homes are no more.

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