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By Bala Ibrahim.

By next week, precisely Thursday, 1st October 2020, Nigeria will be celebrating it’s diamond jubilee, having turned 60 as an independent nation. The Government, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, has approved an inclusive National Independence Celebration program, that will see that the thematic and creative aspects of the event are designed by Nigerians quickly for Nigeria.

According to the Government, the intention is to use this opportunity to harness the power of Nigeria’s creative minds to create a new brand identity around the anniversary theme, which will be celebrated in the public space for one year. Good, very good.

But while the organizers are busy looking for a Nigerian solution to the thematic and creative aspects of the event and other challenges facing our country, as directed by the President, methinks Nigerians should also challenge the President more, on why he chose to tackle the challenges of the country with the “accepted” theme and title of “Go slow”.

Sometimes in 2015, shortly after emerging as the President, while having audience with Nigerians in the United States, and pursuant to a question on how he would reconcile the massive goodwill given to him by the people, and the high expectations of the public on him, PMB humourously admitted to being referred to as, Baba Go slow, instead of Baba Buhari. He implied that he is not bothered by that nomenclature, because he believes the end would justify the means. Good, very good.

Also sometimes in 1994, shortly after the late General Sani Abacha, invited him to serve as the head of the newly created Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF), by which time I was a reporter with the BBC, I put a call to him on the telephone, where I asked General Buhari, whether he was bothered by the insinuation from his die-hard supporters, who felt he has sold out by accepting that appointment?. The General said he was not bothered, because he would work to the best of his ability, for the best of the country, and the end would justify the means. I felt Good, very good.

PTF started sluggishly, because it spent alot of time on the drawing board, which, inspite of the relative restriction on freedom of speech, because the regime was a military one, saw alot of criticism and pressure from the civil society groups. Although in the end, after getting it’s balance, PTF turned out to be the most impactful parastatal ever established in the history of Nigeria, that Go slow aspect, nearly hampered it’s performance.

If we go by reminisce, when he came the first time as military Head of state, the famous and popular quote of Buhari then was, “This generation of Nigerians and indeed future generations, have no other country than Nigeria. We shall remain here and salvage it together”. He spent alot of time going through the books, setting up tribunals to try suspects, and before the bulldozers could start pulling and packing the rubbles, another set of cowboys came to change the course. Since then, the journey was turned from Good to Bad, with the ugly beckoning at the speed of light.

Taking a cue from these antecedents, and going by the constrants of tenure under the termed arangement of democracy, vis a vis the myriad of problems facing Nigeria at 60, I think Mr. President is wrong, by continuing to use the Go slow phylosophy in the digital race to the stars. Yes, like late Professor Ali Mazrui said, while other continents have been to the moon and back, and even the sun is getting closer, we in Africa, are still trying to get to the village. He added that, even if we get to the village, we may not be able to get back, because the roads are decayed, while the rails have crumbled.

Jauxtapose the saying of late Mazrui with the precarious situation of Nigeria today, particularly the issue of insurgency, which is growing in strength and sophistication, and gradually becoming ominous for the country, one can not but ask, why is the President being soft on some issues?

Particularly appalling is the slow speed in implementing some of the policy options for addressing the causes of the insurgency. The situation is turning ominous because everytime a deadline is given, something bad comes on the timeline, and the country goes to grief.

It may be recalled that around the middle of June this year, about 4 months to the 60th anniversary, sequel to the deterioration of security in the country, with more than two attempts on the life of the Governor of Borno state, Professor Baba Gana Zullum, the President said, the service chiefs, whose tenure he is continiously extending without convincing reasons, need to do more, because they were not doing enough. Instead of going down, the atacks and tactics changed exponentially upwards.

Again early in August, disturbed by the outcry of the public, the President, through the National Security Adviser, ordered an immediate re-engineering of the entire security apparatus of the country, which he said would be done within a short time, imploring Nigerians to patiently await the result.

While Nigerians are awaiting the result, and anxiously looking forward to the celebration of safety at sixty, the country was thrown into another round of mourning few days ago, over the death of a military commander, Colonel Bako, who was fatally wounded in an ambush by Boko Haram militants in Borno state. Less than two days after, the convoy of Governor Babagana Zulum of the same Borno State, was again attacked by Boko Haram terrorists, around the same axis.

Much as Nigerians want to applaud the president for working tirelessly in order to make the end justify the means, working at such slow speed, in a system that is moving at high speed, is akin to working at cross purpose. Add his reluctance to right the wrongs in the wrongful removal of some of his aides, alongside other adverse decisions taken in his absence against the best interest of the country, you cannot but fault the President.

Yes, for Nigeria at 60, Mr. President is partially guilty.


Dr. Idris Abdulaziz Dutsen Tanshi: A Case Consuming Ego Interferring With Reason



Idris Abdul'aziz Dutsen Tanshi

Na’Allah Muhammad Zagga

“Knowledge can be dangerous. Smart people can do monumentally stupid things. Intelligence can be put to a bad use. But this doesn’t mean that knowledge and intelligence are to be avoided. It means only that they need the proper accompaniment–wisdom.”
~Tom Morris.

Even Tanshi’s worst enemy cannot dispute the fact that he is colossally learned. So, why he is so isolated by other scholars, including his own fellow Izala brothers? Sheikh Idris Abdulaziz Tanshi achieved distinctions in all his scholarly studies in prestigious universities in Saudi Arabia.

Why should such a great scholar become such a controversial figure? To say he is learned is an understatement. His is a case of virtue spoilt by style. I have not come across a preacher with penchant for insulting other scholars as Dr. Idris. He hardly acknowledges the knowledge of other scholars. He uses his platform to engage in name calling. He spares no one.

No how do you attract people to Islam by using your knowledge to scare rather than inspiring others? Over 90 percent of his preaching is dominated by name calling. He publicly calls Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi and Prof. Pantami nasty names. His latest altercation is with his own Izala brothers. He openly insults Sheikhs Bala Lau and kabiru Gombe.

If we go by Islamic history, the Prophet Mohammad had used wisdom and personal examples to inspire and attract people to Islam. He demonstrated incredible refinement in his attitude towards others. He had never used foul language to address even his own enemies, those who disagreed with him or those that mocked him. He demonstrated patience and emotional intelligence in his interactions with others.

Incivility was not in the character of Muhammad. How can you openly call other people’s faith into question day after day without making needless enemies? He unapologetically calls Dariqa members kafirai. Dr. Idris Abdulaziz Tanshi talks as if your salvation depends on his approval; he behaves as if he controls the keys to heave or paradise!

It’s high time Dr. Idris Abdulaziz humbled himself and do a soul-searching on his own way of doing things. Leadership requires composure, patience, calmness and remarkable comportment. Don’t inspire your followers with uncultured behaviour or encourage them to insult others. Respect is the foundation of relationship at any level. You can’t belittle, vilify and insult other scholars without creating needless enemies.

Vanity can destroy even great people. Vanity is like Vodka. It intoxicates and intoxication impairs our reasoning ability. No man is an Island. The most dangerous delusion is the spirit of self-righteousness. A self-righteous person is like a patient who believes he is in perfect health, despite all the dangerous signs of his condition. He argues even with his own doctor, despite the fatal consequences of his own obduracy.

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Climate Change’s Stealthy Impact on Health-Faith John



Faith John


Maiduguri, the heart of Nigeria’s Borno State, is silently grappling with an adversary that’s affecting more than just the environment – climate change. The rising temperatures and erratic weather patterns might not scream catastrophe, but their toll on public health is undeniable.

The increasingly hot days are more than just discomfort. They bring a surge in heat-related illnesses, from heat exhaustion to heatstroke. Vulnerable populations, including children and the elderly, bear the brunt of these health risks.

Changing climate patterns influence the spread of diseases. The city has seen an uptick in diseases like malaria and dengue, as rising temperatures create favorable conditions for disease-carrying vectors.
Water scarcity resulting from droughts and shifting rainfall patterns leads to unhygienic water sources and a higher risk of waterborne diseases, jeopardizing public health.

Another risk faced is air pollution from extended droughts which leads to respiratory issues, affecting both children and adults. Dust and air quality pose a growing threat.

For the past few weeks, Maiduguri have experienced haze weather known as harmattan haze during the season typically between November and February. Harmattan haze is caused by the movement of dry, dusty air from the Sahara Desert. This haze can have several effects on health.
Respiratory Issues: The fine dust particles in the haze can irritate the respiratory system, leading to symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and worsening of preexisting respiratory conditions like asthma or bronchitis.
The haze can reduce visibility, making travel and outdoor activities more challenging and potentially increasing the risk of accidents.

Dust particles in the air can cause skin dryness and irritation. Additionally, they may lead to eye irritation, including redness and discomfort.

Increased Vulnerability to Infections: Prolonged exposure to haze can weaken the body’s natural defense mechanisms, potentially increasing susceptibility to respiratory infections.

To mitigate the health effects of Maiduguri’s harmattan haze, individuals can take precautions such as staying indoors during peak haze hours, using air purifiers, wearing masks, and staying hydrated to help soothe irritated respiratory passages. It’s important for local authorities to issue health advisories and take measures to reduce the impact of haze on the population.

The health implications of climate change in Maiduguri are crystal clear. Urgent measures are required to protect the health of the city’s residents. We urge the government to invest in healthcare infrastructure, public awareness campaigns, and sustainable practices to mitigate climate change’s impact on health.

Maiduguri’s fight against climate change is more than an environmental struggle; it’s a battle for the health and well-being of its people.

Faith John
University of Maiduguri

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Low Birth Weight” Impact on Newborns




Faith John

The significance weight of a newborn carries more than mere numbers on a scale. Low birth weight, a silent but profound challenge, casts a shadow over the promising dawn of infancy.

The World Health Organization (WHO) sees low weight as weight at birth less than 2500 g (5.5 lb). Low birth weight continues to be a significant public health problem globally and is associated with a range of both short- and long term consequences. Overall, it is estimated that 15% to 20% of all births worldwide are low birth weight, representing more than 20 million births a year.

At the forefront of concerns is the vulnerability of these infants to a myriad of health complications. From respiratory distress syndrome to developmental delays, low birth weight amplifies the risk of a spectrum of issues that can cast a long shadow into childhood and beyond. The fragility of underweight newborns demands vigilant medical care and heightened attention to safeguard their well-being.

Cognitive development, a cornerstone of a child’s future, stands at the crossroads when low birth weight enters the narrative. Research suggests that these infants may face a higher likelihood of cognitive impairments, affecting their learning abilities and academic achievements.

Low birth weight babies are more likely to have health problems later in their lives. These issues may be related to also being born prematurely, or to failing to get the nutrition they needed at critical times during their gestation. Early intervention and treatment are critical to helping growing kids develop normally.
The goal of the World Health Organisation is to achieve a 30% reduction in the number of infants born with a weight lower than 2500 g by the year 2025. This would translate into a 3% relative reduction per year between 2012 and 2025 and a reduction from approximately 20 million to about 14 million infants with low weight at birth.
WHO’s Member States have endorsed global targets for improving maternal, infant and young child nutrition and are committed to monitoring progress. The targets are vital for identifying priority areas for action and catalysing global change.
As medicine allows smaller and more prematurely born infants to survive, we see these children developing a range of health outcomes. Some have no illnesses or negative outcomes at all, while others continue to have slower growth, more illnesses, and other problems throughout their lives. Babies with low birth weight born into situations where they are at risk socially or economically are more at risk for health problems

About 80 percent of low birth weight infants suffer some long-term side effects, from impaired immune systems or lung problems to learning disabilities, behavior problems or even cerebral palsy. About 20 percent of premature and low birth weight babies go on to have no health problems at all. However, parents of all low birth weight infants must provide good nutrition and health care throughout childhood to ensure the best outcomes for these children.
Advances in medical science, coupled with proactive healthcare measures, offer a beacon for positive change. From innovative interventions during pregnancy to specialized neonatal care, the healthcare landscape is evolving to provide tailored solutions for newborns on the lower end of the weight spectrum.
The societal response to low birth weight must transcend the confines of the clinic and extend into communities, fostering a culture of awareness and support. Education on prenatal health, access to nutritional resources, and destigmatization of preconceived notions surrounding low birth weight are vital steps toward a more equitable start for every child.
Governments and health practitioners can play pivotal roles in addressing and reducing low birth weight by Investing in accessible and affordable prenatal care services, ensuring that all pregnant individuals have timely and comprehensive healthcare throughout their pregnancies.
Health practitioners should emphasize the importance of early and regular prenatal visits, monitoring the health of both the mother and the developing fetus. Implement programs that focus on improving overall maternal health, including nutrition, mental health support, and lifestyle guidance. Educate women on the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle before and during pregnancy, addressing factors such as proper nutrition, regular exercise, and avoiding harmful substances.
Governments should work towards reducing socioeconomic inequalities that contribute to disparities in birth weight. This involves initiatives that improve access to education, employment opportunities, and social services. Ensure that healthcare facilities are adequately equipped to provide specialized care for low birth weight infants, including neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) and trained healthcare professionals. Health practitioners should receive ongoing training to stay updated on the latest advancements in neonatal care.
By adopting a comprehensive and collaborative approach, governments and health practitioners can significantly contribute to the reduction of low birth weight, fostering healthier beginnings for the next generation. Thanks to the WHO Global nutrition target which is aimed at reducing low birth weight.

Faith John Gwom
Department of Mass Communication
University of Maiduguri

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