Nobody Knows Why Nigerians Die

Death is an inevitable consequence of life. Knowing the causes of morbidity and mortality in a given population is important for seeing public health goals and monitoring progress. Globally, the Global Burden of Disease is measured by the Institite For Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an objective project that calculates and monitors trends in mortality and morbidity in different countries over the years.

A glance at Nigeria’s data will show the leading causes of death for Nigerians to be:

1. Lower respiratory infections
2. Neonatal disorders
3. HIV/AIDS
4. Malaria
5. Diarrheal Disease
6. Tuberculosis
7. Meningitis
8. Ischemic heart disease
9. Stroke
10. Cirrhosis

But there is a problem: The data used for these rankings is incomplete and these are just best guess estimates and projections from incomplete records.

Nobody knows for sure why Nigerians die.

One challenge the program has faced is inadequate and outdated data for most countries. To combat this problem they use sophisticated data modelling and projections to arrive at working figures. This works but it is not as accurate as actual data, collected in real time.

A cursory online search for causes of mortality in Nigeria reveals the paucity of data. About three studies are seen at first glance. All of them small facility based studies or compilation of archives. A truly representative data set would involve a record of all deaths in Nigeria. For every death there should be a documented cause and the data should be gathered, aggregated and made publicly available.

This is not the case.

Although the Nigerian Populatiom Commiom Act of 1992 stipulates that all deaths should be registered by the commissioner and duly recorded.

“The death of every person dying in Nigeria and the cause thereof shall as from the commencement of this Act be registered by the registrar of births and deaths for that area in which the death occurred by entering in a register kept for that area particulars concerning the death as may be prescribed.”

Indeed, if this law has been enforced there would be robust data about the number of deaths in Nigeria and their causes.

Alas, there has been very little compliance.

An article by the Canasian Immigration and Redugee Board, published in March 2011, the authors clearly records the frustrations of anyone trying to obtain a death certificate and the laissez faire attitude of those tasked with issuing them.

A counsellor at the Deputy High Commision of Canada to Nigeria in Lagos is said to have indicated in writing to with the Research Directorate that “it is not common for the NPC to issue death certificates because most people do not see the need to do so (Canada 25 Feb 2011).

The question is why?

A few explanations lend themselves readily:

1. The law stipulated that these deaths should be recorded free of charge.

This provision which was probably made to improve access however it has also reduced any incentives for the commission to invest time and money in death registration. Data collection is an arduous task , so without any financial incentive, it serves as an increased burden on the commison without any apparent gains.

The second issue is one of demand and supply. Most Nigerians are not concerned about causes of death or their records. Autopsies are hardly done. This lack of interest also fuels political disinterest. For the average Nigerian, a record of deaths and their causes is of little or no concern.

But this ought not to be.

Studies of morality and morbidity are of great public and global health interest. They help researchers to monitor trends and design program that can impotent life expectancy.

Today, the average life expectancy for Nigerians is 56 years, far below the international average of 72 years (source: WHO).

Accurate data on causes of death can highlight the greatest causes of death and lead to a focus on their prevention.

If the attitudes towards the collection of data change, the next thing would be to change the process.

First registering deaths should be made compulsory. The data should be collected by the communities through their leaders and the disease and notification officer a for each local government should be notified. And the collection should be the responsibility of the local governments.

A part of the budgets, both of the commission and of the local governments should be dedicated to death registrations. Families of the bereaved should be made to pay a token amount which should be waived for indigent families or people with peculiar circumstances.

Collected data should be collated by state and nationally. The figures should be updated monthly to a national database such as the DHIS. The data should be blockchain protected to avoid tampering and falsification.

If these measures are in place they would change the way data about Nigeria is reported. For the first time we would have truly representative data and be able to make better decisions. Instead of models and educated gusees, we would know for sure why Nigerian are dying and we would be able to tackle it, making it possible for Nigerian to love longer, healthier, more productive lives.

Compensation For Wives Causes TwitterNg Storm

TwitterNg is the home of  Twitter drama, it also famous for perennial gender wars; it was still unprepared for the Storm following the thread by Ozzyetomi asking men to pay their wives, this one was huge.

In a series of tweets–a thread, of you will– Ozzyetomi explained how unfair it was for women to sacrifice for the home for years and have nothing to show for it at the end, especially when married to relatively well off men.

 

After that, the battle began.

Responses were sharp and silly, affirmative and scornful, dissenting and supportive

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As usual, there was no consensus on the matter at the end of the day. Many people felt it was an absurd patronising idea.

 

While many other felt it was not even enough and asserted that every partner should have equal access to all family funds.

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While the term ‘salary’ has been an object of debate and ridicule, (Ozzyetomi later recanted the term), most people agree that women have historically been under compensated for their roles in the home. This was especially poignant in the light of a study by Welch’s that showed being a full time house wife was the equivalent of two full time jobs. Of course there was snark about that, someone asked which jobs allow you to be in pyjamas and stay on the phone all day. That, was swiftly rebuffed with a long list of jobs one can do that don’t care what you wear or how long you are on the phone.

So the science shows that being a housewife is work and most people agree they should be compensated but many men are still resistant to the idea and many women too.

Questions have been raised about ‘salary structure’ ‘promotions’ ‘hiring additional hands’ and so on. But while many quibble over the terminology–upkeep, salary, allowance, pay– it is undeniable that many women deserve more from their well off husbands. Any woman ( or human for that matter) who sacrifices for the home should be compensated from income that comes to the family. Even in the midst of the ruckus, one thing that cannot be denied is that women have traditionally and historically cheated and this should change. Marriages should be a union of two people to be stronger, better, and happier not a means to oppress and kill people’s dreams. Even if your partner works, if you are better off, you should contribute to make them comfortable too. And if you are a full time caree for your home, you need to plan for your welfare.

Some ways to do this include:

1. Talk finance with your fiancé. Know what you both earn now and are looking to earn in future. Agree on who will be the primary source of income and how the family finances will be structured. If you want a salary, talk about it.
2. Be very aware of the wording in documents. For example, don’t allow an agreement state Mr and Mrs Obasanjo. There may be a million Mr Obasanjo’s, make sure your first (and possibly second name is reflected).
3. If you earn much more than your spouse and they spend most of their time taking care of the home, endeavour to split your pay with them.
4. If you feel unfairly treated, speak up.
5. If you are at home, explore ways to improve your financial intelligence and stability (study, savings, investments, remote jobs, training).
6. Always keep an eye on the future: if you can’t work, maybe you can study; if not at a full time program, maybe distance learning or online.
7. Keep looking out for yourself, don’t give up on yourself, take good care of you, always.
Cheers🍸

Where is Nnamdi Kanu?

In a flamboyant show of force the Nigerian government crushed Nnamdi Kanu’s budding Biafran uprising. Operation Python, was the name given to the army exercise that invaded Abia state to squelch the uprising of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) movement on September 14th, 2017.

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Members of IPOB have since been arraigned before the Federal High Court Abuja on charges of treason but Nnamdi Kanu seems to have disappeared.

Reports in the media have said he was seen in Ghana, but many people think that is just a ruse. Some Nigerians have declared that an unthinkable atrocity was committed and Nnamdi Kanu’s lawyer has called on the army to produce his client. In a statement, the Nigerian army said they do not have Mr Kanu in their custody and they are unaware of his whereabouts.

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Even though, according to Nigerian Law, Nnamdi Kanu is being charged, many people are still concerned about his welfare. It is a fundamental human right that every life be protected. Was Nnamdi Kanu’s life protected? Was he killed? Was he seen in Ghana?

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If he is alive, where are the pictures? If he is alive, why hasn’t he made any statement to allay the fears of his supporters?

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If he is dead, why isn’t there any outcry by his family in social and mainstream media?

So many questions, not enough answers, but one question remains: where is Nnamdi Kanu?

 

Seven Reasons To Read Bolaji Abdullahi’s On A Platter Of Gold

On A Platter Of Gold, How Jonathan Won And Lost Nigeria, is Bolaji Abdullahi’s account of President Goodluck Jonathan’s rise to power and his failed re-election bid. The historical non-fiction book doubles as a political thriller with razor sharp suspense, mad twists and an unrelenting pace. I approached the book with equal parts scorn and boredom; what more did I have to learn about President Jonathan’s failed election? Hadn’t I witnessed it in real time? And how was I to endure 300 pages of historical non-fiction, without falling asleep?

The reality was a pleasant surprise.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading On A Platter Of Gold. It was an entertaining, informative, transformative experience I can recommend. I pushed it into the hand of another sceptical reader and they were hooked right way!

Here are seven reasons to read the book:

 

Read it for the content

On A Platter Of Gold covers events within recent memory that form part of the lived experience of most students of Nigerian history. There is therefore no need to concern oneself with this book, right? Wrong.

Although most people followed the events of President Jonathan’s rise to power in real time, it would be erroneous to think that was enough. A hackneyed collection of newspaper clippings, social media memes and Internet videos might give glimpses into the events but they can’t replace this vivid, painstaking, insider account.

On A Platter of Gold assembles the data, and organises it to tell a story that leaves the reader satisfied. It goes to the origins of Nigerian democracy and the struggles of present day.  Have you ever wondered how Goodluck Jonathan was chosen to be the PDP flag bearer? Have you ever wanted to know why the PDP imploded? Read this book.

 

Read It For The Experience

There is a joy-grief feeling every reader has at the end of a good book. It is like being filled with your favourite meal, you want to eat it again, but there is no space. That is the experience this book delivers. By using an omniscient point of view the writer is able to take you on an electric train ride from the creeks of Otukpo to the deserts of Kastina, the Abuja metropolis to the Sambisa forest without letting you lose interest or fall asleep. In twelve chapters, you get a masterclass in political party building, a handbook for succession planning and the post-mortem of an incumbent president’s failure at the polls.

It is hard to tell you more without giving too much away but this book makes you believe in time travel, makes you love history, makes you think about who is ruling/leading you and why.

Read It For The Humour

One thing that shocked me about On A Platter Of Gold was how funny it was. My hard copy (you should get one by the way) is full of scribbled ‘hehe’ notes and emojis. The book is full of things to laugh about. From the dashed hopes of politicians to the fickleness of rented protesters and the eternal praying president, there is so much that will have laughing out loud. Or smiling to yourself. Or scribbling in the margins. I never thought history could be humorous, this book changed my mind.

 

Read It For The Drama

Nigeria is the home to Nollywood; of one of the greatest home movie industries on the planet. We are drama, drama is us. And there is no better place to see our drama at work than in politics. On A Platter Of Gold offers generous helpings of drama in all forms. From characters whose skin erupt in Koranic verse to terrorists with ninety-nine lives and plots to steal an election that sound like a fantasy movie script, On A Platter Of Gold has it all.

 

Read It For The Questions

Before they had a chance to read the book some folk had already condemned it as lacking objectivity and being ‘full of lies.’
While author bias is real, this book appears to have been written to spur discourse rather than to take sides. There are points in the book that need closer scrutiny, further discussion. This can only happen once the book is read. I think the book raises questions of interest to the Nigerians from the South-Eastern Zone, The US government, The UK, PDP leadership, Nigerian feminists, Global security operatives and every student of history.

What are the lessons the South-East can leverage on to have a successful Presidential bid?

Is it true that the Us frustrated the Nigerian government’s anti-terrorist offensive? If so, why?

Why did the UK not provide more support?

What is needed for the PDP to rebuild, reform, resurrect?

Women are not portrayed in flatteringly in the book: Dezianni seems dishonest and pompous, the First Lady ignorant and loquacious, even Dora Akunyili looks naive and erratic. Is the writer to blame? Or are Nigerian women in politics just disappointing?

What should have been the global anti-terror response to Boko Haram? How does the response influence policies on handling similar cases when they arise?

Where do we go from here?

 

Read It For The Lessons
A wise man learns from the mistakes of others. And in On A Platter Of Gold, there are many mistakes.

For me, these mistakes were lessons: How Not To Choose Leaders, The Importance Of Consultation, Why Mentors Matter, The Best Time To Kill A Monster Is In The Craddle etc

Every reader will have their own deductions, this book is filled with teachable moments.

 

Read It For Posterity

We live in a fast changing world. But one thing that hasn’t changed is people’s love for stories. In a few years much of what is common knowledge (and keyboard outrage) will be forgotten. Reading a book like On A Platter of Gold will position you to offer sage counsel with historical accuracy (and hopefully modern use).

In any case you don’t want to be scratching your head when your grandkids read the book and want to know all about the Occupy Nigeria Protests, the Smuggled/Bungled South African arms deal and the Chibok Girls. I don’t. That is why I have read my copy, made my notes and stowed it safely in my library.

Have you read the book? Did you like it? Why would you recommend it? Why? Why not?

 

 

Is This How We Learn Your Names?

 

For Dapchi

Is this how we learn your names?
Soaked in blood and tears
drenched in the stench of a nation’s fears.
Would I ever know
Buni Yadi, Chibok, Dapchi
places so pretty
stained by tragedy
bent by the weight of wails ?
My feet have not kissed your dust
but my heart beats for your loss
I long to gather you in my arms
kiss away this pain that keeps growing
a gluttonous cavern, an abyss
which never goes away. Will you
ever get past this to become what you could have been before the war?
what can we call it when our daughters are stolen sons slaughtered
homes set ablaze mercy lost.
Innocents made casualties in a matter
they know nothing about. My arms are too small, my feet feeble but my voice will scream your pain to the heavens
my pen will record your groans, my books will carry your grief, my lens will collect your tears And one day
when pain and war are no more
we will lift an altar to your sacrifice
And at its base will be inscribed
No more death, no more pain, no more loss.

6 Good Things Ebola Brought To Nigeria

Ebola. A one word terror that has gripped Nigeria in the throes of national hysteria. Having no cure or vaccine, killing it’s victims in a most dehumanising way, thwarting regional efforts to curb its spread, the Ebola Virus Disease is the stuff of science fiction or real life WHO nightmares.

So, when Ebola was imported into to Nigeria by a Liberian Diplomat, the polity was understandably agitated. Social media was agog with advice, speculation, theories and lamentation. A particularly unfortunate incident was a Prank Blackberry Broadcast a girl sent asking her friends to bathe and drink salt to prevent the deadly disease. The broadcast went viral and at least two people are rumoured to have died of complications of hypernatremia, less in fact than died of Ebola within the same time frame.

However, Ebola’s arrival in Nigeria has not been an entirely evil event. It also brought some goodies. Six of these goodies include:

1. A Clean Hands Revolution.
Never in our national history have we cared about hand hygiene as we do now. Hand-washing is preached and practiced in homes, offices and schools at previously unimaginable rates.

Even more amusing is the rash of hand sanitizing creams that have flooded the country. Now, many offices, banks, companies and schools demand visitors hands are smeared with hand sanitizer before they are granted access.

It is unclear how this would help prevent Ebola in people at low or no risk, but it is certain that one can expect lower incidences of contact diseases like diarrhoea and common cold in Nigeria this year. And that is a good thing.

2. More Attention To Personal Space

Nigerians are notorious for dramatic greetings. We hug, kiss, shake hands, lift each other off the ground and spin ourselves around.

Before Ebola.

Now, a wave offered from * meter or two will do. Who wan die?

3. An End To a Protracted Doctor’s. Strike

Some will argue this point, but there is no doubt in my mind that the Draculaen measures adopted by the Federal government to stop the doctor’s strike was partly caused by the Ebola outbreak. Politicians used the outbreak to pressure doctors to return to work and the polity wailed about doctors insensitivity. Never mind that most hospitals are yet to equip or train their doctors to respond. The strike has been called off. Let’s hope many non-Ebola deaths have been so prevented.

4. An Upgrade In Personal Protective Equipment In Health Centres Nationwide.

This point is speculative. It is believed that with N1.9 Billion released for a nationwide response, Personal Protective Equipment will now become available in all government hospitals.
This will go along way to protect healthcare workers from getting infected with disease while at work.

Even before Ebola, many centre lacked protective material as basic as gloves. Googles, body suits, boots and masks were a pipe dream.

Hopefully, Ebola will mean more money devoted to Personal Protective Equipment and safer work places for Nigerian healthcare workers.

5. Fresh Respect For Field Epidemiologists.

With the success of the Ebola Response following the outbreak in Lagos, many people have scrambled to take the credit. Epistles have been written in praise of the State governor, the ruling party, and foreign aid agencies.

The truth is, the Ebola response was successful because of the efforts of little known hardly seen group of medical personnel — the field epidemiologists.

As part of the HIV/AIDS response in Nigeria, the American government has sponsored the selection and training of doctors, vets and lab scientists in the discipline of field epidemiology.

Recently, the training program began to suffer budget cuts and funding reduction. Many feared it would be scrapped altogether.

Not anymore.

Ebola has shown that the little known discipline of field epidemiology is in fact crucial to prevent public health nightmare in developing countries.

And with that, more money is being pumped into training. There’s no need to close the field epidemiology program; rather plans are underway to expand it to cater for regional and continental threat.

6. More Funding For Emergency Response.

Finally, the Ebola outbreak has brought more funding for emergency response. Research, equipment, supplies, training and strengthening of networks that would have taken years are being fast tracked in months.

Ebola is a terrible disease but it seems to have brought some good along with its terror.

Terror’s Dance Hall

Boom!

We scatter left and right
Then we arise furious and indignant
How dare bombs go off here?
Know they not who we are?

Boom! Boom!

Less noise now,
But still we condemn and castigate
Such ‘heinous acts’
This ‘Un-Nigerian’, ‘Alien’, ‘Unbelievable’.

Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!

Everyone is quiet now,
It is just another day,
Another blast
Another sacrifice of innocents

We are too numb to shout
Our voices are mute
In the senseless silence
We grope
And wonder
How?

How did the ‘Happiest Nation on Earth’
Become Terror’s Dance Hall?