By: Emmy Joe The 2023 governorship election we have been waiting and hoping earnestly for to make a right choice is now around the corner.  As disclosed by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the 2023 Nigerian gubernatorial elections will be held in 31st out of 36th states on the 11th March 2023- two weeks after the general election. Sequel to the scheduled date for the elections, the governorship candidates  for the two major political parties in Benue State had recently released their  blueprint.  The duo include; The governorship Candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Rev. Father Hyacinth Alia, and the governorship candidate of the People Democratic Party  (PDP), Rt. Hon. Titus Uba. Rt. Hon. Titus Uba titled his blueprint as “soil as our oil” and further unveiled “Security and Agriculture as his top priorities when he wins the forthcoming coming election, Demystifying his idea and giving elaboration to his point he stated that his choice of priority areas was informed by the fact that Benue is endowed with rich agricultural soil.“Every section of the country is endowed in a very unique way as such, Benue is endowed with good soil for agricultural activities.” “This informed our decision to choose the slogan. “soil is our oil”, We do not have a bogus blueprint. Our blueprint is anchored on only two critical issues,” Uba said.  He stressed that he would use the state’s natural endowment to develop her. Meanwhile the candidate of the All progressive congress (APC) Rv. Father Hyacinth Alia on his part disclosed via his blueprint released recently which he tagged; ” A Strategic Development Plan for a Greater Benue, He said the document is structured around seven priority pillars, with the acronym SACHIIP, which represents, Security of Lives and Property; Agriculture and Rural Development; Commerce and Industry; Human Capital and Social Development; Infrastructure and Environment; Information & Communication Technology (ICT); and Political and Economic Governance. He stressed that his  services would be in line with the core values of human capital development, accountability, inter-and intra-governmental cooperation, industry, integrity, character, trust and moral courage that adds value to governance if he becomes governor of  Benue state. Fr Alia also promised to build an economy based on functional education, employment generation, agricultural development and growth with a focus on food production and processing in a secured environment that ensures food security, wealth creation and poverty reduction for the state. Taking a critical look at the two blueprints above and giving a comparative analysis on the blueprints, ” whose ideas can drive Benue people to the promised land?” is it the man whose idea is narrowed towards a particular issue? or the man whose idea is directed towards a broad range of issues?, the one that says few words or the one who uses many words? In the part of the people democratic party Guber candidate, Rt. Hon. Titus Uba, questions like this arise when considering the angle he is coming from, in terms of his promises of “Security and Agriculture” as top priorities, Does it means, he is taking another strategic approach in tackling security issues than the one the incumbent Gov. Samuel Ortom has taken so far to ensure security of life in the state? Does it mean governor Ortom has not done enough to ensure security in Benue State?  Would Agricultural development alone be enough to foster development in other sectors in Benue State? Has the small quantity of the agricultural produce in Benue State been well processed and preserved? Do we have adequate facilities and industry for the procession and preservation of agricultural produce in our state to avoid wastage and spoilage as in the case of tomatoes, oranges and mangoes we see every year? How then, can someone ascend a position  overnight to use agriculture as a tool for development when the agricultural sector itself is not yet developed? On his  part, Rv. Fr Hyacinth Alia under the platform of All progressive congress (APC) has revealed several things he will do when he emerges a winner in the forthcoming elections, numerous questions emanate in his multiple promises to the people of Benue state. Yes he touches all the areas that handicapped Benue state for about 36 years of her birth, what’s the possibility of him abiding by all he said and doing them before his tenure elapsed?  What has he done significant in the sector he has formerly worked in that the experience would enhance him to achieve  all he promised if the opportunity is given to him by the Benue people? The situation Benue State found herself now is about a broad range of agendas that would bring emancipation? He has outlined the  “what to do” for  Benue people, how about the “how do it”? like in the case of his opponent who wants to harness agriculture as a tool for Development.  what approach would he use to achieve the seven priority pillars, with the acronym SACHIIP? The capable and suitable candidates that can drive Benue people safely to the promise land is dependent on the possible answer you can craft for the above questions, competence is not found in  either our few words or numerous words, competence is found in individual actions deducing from what he/she had done in the  past especially in the office he has handled in the past. Who Then is our preferred candidate  Rv.Father Alia or Mr. Titus Uba? Benue people, “the ball is now in our court” the way we play it this time around determine our win or lose, this is a clarion call for all Benue sons and daughters to come out and make the right choice this time that we won’t regret it in the next four years  “had I know” is a language of a loser to avoid losing to their selfish, ambitious, pretentious flattering of words which is one of the political ideas as “a game of interest” we must look beyond their words this time around to observe carefully at the actions of the man speaking to us. In any choice you make in the 2023  elections, either through sentiment, tribalism, relativism or bribery, always remember the political thought of Niccolo Machiavelli “the end justifies the means’.

By: Gloria Ogine Following the ripple effect of the redesigned naira currency as part of the activities of the Nigerian federal government in the implementation of the Nigeria Cashless Policy, the country is now thrown into an unfortunate hardship, and students are not left out.  As obtainable in other places, the Northcentral University Students, are having more difficulties paddling the canoe through learning.  In addition to academic stress; flipping through pages of books, journals, research works, jostling through the internet for inspiration, and rushing to beat assignment deadlines, Benue varsity students are making harder decisions accommodating long queues at the Automated Teller Machines (ATM) and Point of Services (POS)  terminals waiting forever for cash. Recall that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through its governor, Godwin Emefiele had on October 26, 2022, announced that it had redesigned  N200, N500, and N1,000 notes.  The Commission went further to give until the thirty-first of January 2023, after which the old notes would cease to be legal tender.  Although the January 31st, 2023 deadline didn’t go well with Nigerians, owing to the scarcity of the redesigned notes.  February 10th was later announced as the new deadline which was still not well with Nigerians Nevertheless, the policy has come to stay despite the cash scarcity.  Students Narrate ordeals.  At the Benue State University, Makurdi, The Middlebelt Reporter observes that students are having a hard time choosing between attending lectures or joining the long queue at the ATM terminals or POS stands.  Either of the decisions is detrimental to their academic performance or stomach performance.  Read Also: In Benue, farmers recount losses as Nigeria’s weak forest policy aids deforestation Most times, long queues don’t have pay-offs; as there isn’t sufficient cash to go around. To worsen the situation, some  POS agents around the university community have heightened their service charges despite stern warnings from the Students Union body.  Like Edwin Oruhu; a final-year student of the department of Zoology said it is frustrating to be cashless on campus, especially since the bandwidth is unfavorable for internet banking. “I could recall paying at a restaurant with my friends and days after, we got back to hear that the transfer wasn’t confirmed. We had to pay again.” Edwin and their friends have had times of being overcharged simply because they had no cash. And they had to pay with their card or mobile transfers.  “Today, a friend and I went to the park after she couldn’t access cash. They were accepting transfers at first but when a particular transaction could not be verified, they stopped and we had to locate another park. we were charged #2000 for a service of #1500 if we use cash.” Gideon Ocholi, a 300-level student of  Medicine and Surgery (MBBS) said,  “As a student, it has affected me in diverse ways including hunger strikes and being stranded” He continued, “I have been meaning to go to the market for the past two weeks but I have not been able to. Do you know why? I don’t have transportation fare. I don’t have #200 for okada.  That’s so sad.”, He lamented. Emmy Joe, a 300 Level Mass Communication student of Benue State University, pointed out that the new naira policy has posed a series of challenges for him but one of these challenges that stands out for him is the difficulty he encountered when paying his school fees. Read Also: Low Christmas as Fuel Price Cripples Travel Hopes in Benue “Ever since the old naira ban and new naira scarcity began, I have been having a series of challenges when it comes to transactions, as it is, payments of user charges can be daunting.  “The new currency saga is no longer something to bear.” He added.To cushion the strenuous difficulties, the Nigerian President, Mohammadu Buhari,  GCFR addressing the nation on February 15th, affirmed that the old N200 naira note alongside the new N200, N500, and N1000 naira notes would concurrently be legal tenders until April 10, 2023, when the old 200 nairas would cease to be a legal tender.

By: David Arome The streets and roadside are gradually turning into a refuse hub with various types of waste. It is so glaring that among other waste indiscriminately disposed of, plastic waste tops the lead. The stance emanating from the waste is enough to make one throw up. The multiplier effects of plastic waste pollution in the environment are already staring at us so hard. The waste plastic and other refuse dump sites are now habitations for rats and mosquitoes, exposing the locals to public health threats. This practice over time led to blockage of drainages, waterways thereby resulting in flooding.   Plastic pollution has recently gained a new global dimension, with Nigeria taking its turn in the emerging environmental public health threat. It is a widespread trend and a more frequent cause for concern. According to the World Population Review of 2021, Nigeria is rated as the 7th largest country in the world for generating plastic waste, amounting to about 5.96 million tons annually, with about 88 percent of the waste generated not being recycled but rather ending up in landfills and waterways. Plastic pollution does not only negatively impact the environment but also the health and safety of human lives.   Residual Impacts of Indiscriminate Disposal of Plastic and Other Waste The usual excitement that comes when it rains, especially with the cold natural climate that accompanied it, turned out to be an unforgettable ordeal for Mr. John. John is one of the residents of the Maraba suburb community. He is a petty trader who sells food stuff in the main market in Maraba. On a Saturday morning, though the cloud cover was heavy and the wind was blowing, he quickly rushed to the market to continue his sale. That same day, it rained heavily, causing flooding and leaving plastic waste littered in the environment. Shortly after the rain stopped, John received a phone call from a neighbor informing him that his house had been flooded. He rushed to the house to confirm the information he had received from his neighbor. On reaching the house, he could not hold back his tears as the flood had destroyed his house and properties. There are many others with similar experiences.  An online survey through a cloud-based platform (Google Form) conducted by David Arome to assess knowledge, perceptions, challenges, and mitigating factors of environmental plastic pollution. The responses of the participants are shown in the chart below: These responses are clear indications that environmental plastic pollution requires a holistic approach to combat the threat as soon as possible.  Nigerians on the streets are also concerned about the environmental threat posed by plastic pollution. Martha, one of the street Nigerians interviewed, also bared her mind on the devastating effects of plastic pollution, such as flooding and littering of the environment. They also blamed the frequent burning of plastic waste on a lack of waste bins and a poor waste management system. They reiterated that the aftermath effect leads to environmental pollution.   Environmental experts across the board have added their voices to the call for scaled-up action to get rid of plastic pollution from the environment. Mr. Chinedu, an environmental expert, emphasized the need for concerted efforts to stem environmental plastic pollution. He stressed the need to intensify awareness-building efforts in communities and embrace proper disposal of plastic waste in the environment. He also urged the public to adopt an eco-friendly approach by not burning plastic waste, rather dispose of it in the plastic trash bins. He calls for policy adjustments that will incorporate a plastic pollution-free environment, strengthen existing structures, and engage the private sector in plastic waste management across the state. Contributory Factors that Trigger Environmental Plastic Pollution The practice of indiscriminate disposal of plastic waste: The trend toward indiscriminate disposal of plastic waste is alarming and worrisome. It has become a usual practice among many Nigerians to throw off plastic waste along the street without having a second thought about what happens to the plastic waste next. In the long run, these indiscriminate plastic wastes accumulate to block the flow of waterways, resulting in flooding, stagnant pools of water that provide a habitat for insects and rodents to thrive and spread diseases, and plastic waste pollution in the environment, among other things. Poor plastic waste management system: the waste management system is far from getting it right, probably due to a shortage of personnel and equipment to mop up the waste collection from communities and strategic waste dumping sites. Furthermore, the lack of waste segregation, particularly of plastic from solid waste, poses a significant challenge, as collected waste is all mixed and disposed of together. Scanty recycling companies: The number of recycling companies is insufficient to match the massive plastic waste turnout. The plastic waste generation in Nigeria annually is estimated at2.5 million tons.  Possible Solution Toward Achieving Plastic Free Environment Continued education and awareness creation on proper disposal of plastic waste, provision of waste bins, timely collection of the waste by concerned waste management authority are key in the drive in achieving a plastic waste free environment. The culture of cleaning your space and proper disposal of plastic waste remain a first line remedy to a clean, safe and healthy environment. Plastic free environment is a call of duty to everyone in support of stemming plastic pollution. The waste management system needs a complete overhaul to meet the current reality in the quest for a clean, safe, and healthy environment. Also, the private sector can partner with the government in the drive for efficient waste management systems at all levels to create a viable working system. The government on its part can provide a policy framework for the efficient control of plastic waste pollution and smooth running of the waste management system. The plastic waste system can turn out to be a new gold mine for Nigeria in terms of creating job opportunities for the teeming populace.  A clean, safe, and healthy environment is a possibility and everyone’s business, not just that of the government alone. A clean environment is a safe environment.   This report was supported by the Africa Data Hub Community Journalism Fellowship.

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Residents of Makurdi, the Benue State Capital, are having low celebrations as they lament the undue cost of transportation from the state.  A development orchestrated by the high cost of Premium Motor Spirits (PMS) has forced many to suspend their yearly travels. At Evergreen filling station in Wurukum makurdi, The middle-belt reporters observes that the price of fuel per litre is N280 while at  Westside filling station Kanshio, fuel had been sold between N300.  However,   black marketers continued to feast, as they pegged the price at  N400 and N450 average John Tavershima said he travels every year during the yuletide from Makurdi to Vandikiya to see her aged mother. In his words,  the transport fair has forced him to suspend the yearly routine. “traveling home yearly to see my mother who stays in Vandeikya has been suspended this year, due to a hundred percent increase in transport fare.   The previous year,  transport fares went between N1,500 and N2,000. However, this year is the worst.  travelers are paying N3,000 for the same trip.  trip” “I have decided to stay back and send cash to my mother though I never loved to do that I have no option this time” Another resident Okwute Dickson 45, from Okpoma Ainu in Oju Local Government Area, said there is an undue increment in the cost of transportation to Oju which was never envisaged.  “The burden which has come with the increment in transport fares is heartbreaking, though I saw this coming I never knew it would get to this stage. He further revealed that the price from Makurdi to Oju was N2,000. while the price presently stands at N3,500,  “I have decided to stay back with my family in Makurdi this year against yearly travel,” he said. “The hardship and suffering due to the current fuel scarcity are enormous, the oil we produce does not count anyway. It pains so hard to be a Nigerian who suffers without a fault. Like every other Nigerian, Dickson is wishing for a better Nigeria as Christian faithful mark the birth of a savior today. “I hope the government does something as soon as possible, to help us that are suffering this hardship” The Department of State Security Service had on the 8th of December,2022 given a 48 hours ultimatum to the oil marketers and NNPC Limited to end the lingering fuel scarcity. Despite the stern warnings, the current reality in Makurdi, and several states do not speak of compliance with the Security Services. 

On a cool evening in October 2021, Apev Iorliam, 27, alongside others, had just written their final examination as an undergraduate student at Benue State University, Makurdi. Mr Iorliam had promised himself what the final excitement would look like. He would, first of all, allow his parents to feel the euphoria of having a graduate in the family. Soon, he would be united with his family as an Industrial Chemistry graduate – or so he thought as he embarked on the journey from school. He wouldn’t stop smiling as the Peugeot car conveying him alongside others from Makurdi to Degu Gbinde accelerates.  At the other end, Apev Isaac, his father, was phoned by Benjamin Awen, Mr. Iorliam’s friend, earlier to inform him that his son is on his way home. They were preparing to receive him but the joyful anxiety was soon cut short. Mrs. Ngodoo Apev received a call from a bystander who saw her number as Mr Iorliam’s last dialed. Her beloved son is dead. “That was how my world came crashing within a second,” she said. “The pain was the highest I have witnessed in my life. It gets to me especially when I see corp members and other graduates. It reminded me of a dead vision. My joy of motherhood got slimed and the pain would remain forever” It all began in High-level park, makurdi. Everyone was seated. The makurdi-Awajir-Oju route is around 150km, estimated to be about two hours, thirty minutes journey.  Mr. Iorliam knew this would take longer than estimated, considering the deplorable state of the road. What he never envisioned was being a victim of a failed road. It had rained the previous hours heavily and the road was flooded. About halfway into the journey, the car plunged into a ditch, leading to a fatal accident. To Mr. Iorliam’s family, it was not just an accident. It was a light turned off. “Tragic is nothing compared to how I want to describe it,” Mrs. Apev laments.   Mr. Iorliam is one of the many who have lost their lives on the famous Awajir-Oju road.  Farmers lament The deplorable state of the road is reputed to have thwarted businesses. It is the only road connecting various communities like Degu Gbinde, Shangiev, Bonta all in Konshisha Local Government of the State, and Ukpute, Ainu-Ette, Ukpa in Oju Local government.  “Benue state is the Food Basket of the Nation as a slogan has undoubtedly been abused. Lack of access roads is one of the many factors contributing to hunger in the state.” Isaac Ode, a 52-year-old farmer said. The farmer, from Ukpute community, has had his farm produce waste for lack of access road to a good market.  Apart from his large cassava farm, Mr Ode has a lot of palm trees that normally should give him enough money if there was a good road to transport them to markets. “I can’t suffer myself anymore to prepare palm oil for others to reap the profits. I can’t possibly transport them to town and only those who have the means buy from me at a cheaper price and later resold”  “We farmers in this communities have seen it hard. On several occasions, we hired a pick-up van to convey our goods to the market, and we often ended up spending more than we earned. Because of the bad road”  Igbegi Okoli, 47, is a motorist who normally plies the Oju-Awajir through Makurdi. He narrates his ordeal using the road on one occasion when robbers took advantage of the bad portion to waylay him and his passengers. “One Sunday evening I set out for Makurdi. Ordinarily, it should have been a 2 hrs journey. It had rained heavily and the road was bad.  “About one hour into our journey, we got robbed along the Shangiev area. I was with passengers who also got robbed.” “I am still paying for the waybills that got robbed on the way. I may not know the monetary value of everything that was robbed but about two hundred nairas belonging to customers were collected that night.” “It was a painful experience. I tried to escape but the road betrayed me” I have been more careful with the road especially when it is getting dark.” Unlike Mr Okoli, who was robbed along the road, Onwanyi Idekpa, 37, from Ukpa, a retail roadside fruit seller couldn’t keep the frustration that comes with the hike in the price of her goods. She’s afraid she might fade out of the market soon. “You can’t imagine how much we pay to bring these oranges here,” she pointed to a mini bag of oranges on the floor.”  “A bag of this orange and garden egg used to be eight thousand. It is now fifteen thousand Naira. How much would you sell it?” Road project would have made the difference In 2019, the government of Benue State budgeted one billion Naira (1,000,000,000) for the construction of the 52.0km Awajir-Oju road. It was meant to ameliorate the pains, the struggles of those who use the road. UDEME could not ascertain how much had been released for the project as state officials declined comments and failed to respond to official request. If completed, the road has the potential of opening up economic activities for farmers along the Oju axis.  The project was under the supervision of the Ministry of Works, Transport and Energy.  Although farmers were optimistic that the construction of the road will boost economic activities; this hasn’t materialised.  When this reporter visited in November, he found the road in a deplorable condition, nowhere near completion.  On the 52 km Awajir-Oju road are graven portholes, in some cases, these holes are deep and are very difficult to drive through.  Contractor Unreasonable. A 52-year-old resident, Maria Udenyi, said only a portion of the road was worked on. “Only about 8 to 9 kilometres was graded from the Oju main market to Ainu/Ette”  At the Awajir-Oju junction, there is a metal sign post depicting that the road construction was handled by Chinese company “CGGC Global Projects Nigeria Limited.”  Multiple calls made to the company’s contact were unanswered. Despite Promises, ministry fails to respond  After several attempts to speak with the commissioner for the ministry of works, Transport and Energy, this reporter was redirected to Engr. Alex Ornya, the Director of Civil Engineering at the Ministry of Works, who demanded a formal request for information.  A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request sent to the ministry on November 9 is yet to be responded to well after the seven days’ response window stipulated by the law. This story was supported by the Udeme project of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID)

The Liberalist Centre for Education, a Nigeria-based libertarian think tank promoting pro-freedom ideas for human flourishing, has trained journalists on pro-freedom reporting. Themed “Prompting a Free, Prosperous Society Through Pro-freedom Reporting”, the event lasted for two days, held on Friday, 28th October and Saturday, 29th October at Ilorin, Kwara State. The training which focused on educating the public about the ideas of liberty through pro-freedom reporting was part of the centre’s Journalism for Liberty project funded by Atlas Network, a non-profit organisation that secures individual’s rights to economic and personal freedom through its global network of think tanks. Its other partners in this project include Face of Liberty International, African Students for Liberty and Cheetahs Policy Institute. Speaking with the Programme Director, Johnson Sanni, he said coupled with the training, the project also includes launching a news magazine that focuses on publishing pro-liberty articles. “Our aim is to establish a media platform that uses investigative stories, in-depth features, and engaging op-ed articles to inform and expose the adverse effects of excessive government’s powers and ways through which individual liberty and free market are impeded. “After this training, these fellows shall become contributors to our news magazines and advocates of liberty through their reports,” said Sanni. Recall that the Liberalist Centre opened applications for mid-career journalists and writers with interest in the ideas of individual freedom, free market and limited government for their Journalism for Liberty Fellowship 2022. While speaking on the training sessions, Abdullah Tijani, the Executive Director, stated that the training was aimed at exposing the journalists to the ideas of liberty and the journalistic skills needed for reporting to promote the ideas. “The training was an eye-opener for the participants,” he said. “It enlightened them on the ideas of freedom which serves as the basis upon which the philosophy of libertarianism is built.” Speaking with one of the journalists, Adedayo Muhammed-Bashir said the training gave him an insight into the true ideas of liberty. “Majorly, it was all about who we in the society and who we should be in respect to how to identity and protect our rights and freedom. “And there was a clear definition of what liberty is and what freedom is, while comparing what positive right and negative right is all about. It was really an interesting and insightful session,” he added.

After days of consistent rainfall some areas in the capital of Benue state have been flooded with goods worth millions lost. Some of the area flooded are Gyado Villa, Wurukum Market and Achusa all in the capital of the state. Some individuals who were affected lamented that the flood in Makurdi has become a yearly scenario with goods worth millions lost every year. Also Read: ReviveOurLibrary: Benue Citizens lament Moribund State Library. Mr Emeka who deals with Clothing at the Wurukum Market recounting his losses stated that “in the past three years I have lost goods worth 2 Million Naira due to the incident that occurs every year, the government should stand up to stop this yearly occurrence” Onah, a student of Benue State University Makurdi who could not hold back his tears while sharing his experience criticized the government for failing to provide ‘critical infrastructures’ in the state “the government has failed to provide critical infrastructure at every level, the school is on strike we are still losing our properties due to flooding if the government provides drainage system the yearly occurrence and losses could be averted” “the government should also provide enough hostel facilities for students like me on campus which will help (us) students cope with unnecessary loss of properties” Also Read: Strike: FG Drags ASUU to Industrial Court. A popular humanitarian in the state Ukan Kurugh also expressed that the “political will” of the government to solve the problem of flooding is low in the state. He also claimed that houses have been built on waterways by politicians in the state. In 2017 the government through professor Osibanjo pledged to dredge River Benue and create more drainages in the capital to address the situation

The statement released by the head of public relations at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment Olajide Oshundun has confirmed that the Federal Government has dragged the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to Court over the current seven months strike. He stated that the decision was made after negotiations with the union failed, Also Read: Three Students Found dead in Anambra. The government wants the court to order the University Teachers back to classrooms while the issues of disputes are handled by the court. The letter which was signed by senator Chris Ngige the Minister of Labour and Employment on Friday, September 8 2022 is asking the court to determine the legality of the current strike by the Union. In addition, the government is requesting the interpretation of the entire section 18 of the LFN 2004. Other requests include the interpretation of section 43 of the trade dispute act CAP T8 LFN 2004, determine if ASUU members member are to be paid during the period of the strike. “Determine whether ASUU has the right to embark on strike over disputes as is the case in this instance by compelling the Federal Government to employ its payment platform and determine the extent of the union’s demands since 2020. Also Read: ReviveOurLibrary: Benue Citizens lament Moribund State Library. The Union embarked on strike since February 14th, 2022 to press home their demands which include the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement, the acceptance of UTAS over the current used IPPIS, payment of Earned Academic Allowances. Others include the constitution of the visitation panel and the revitalization of public universities and the proliferation of State Universities.

Benue State citizens have lamented and begun to trend the #ReviveOurLibrary over the deplorable condition of the state library located in Makurdi, the Benue State capital. Also Read: Three Students Found dead in Anambra. Several netizens of Benue origin have taken to social media to reminisce about the good old days when the library was still in use and in good shape. According to Agagbe Kelvin, the library was instrumental in getting them prepared for West Africa Examination Council WAEC, National Examination Council, and NECO. “I remember how this library serve myself and many others preparing for WAEC and NECO examinations, with just an ID we got then,(that even enable some of us to open bank accounts as at the time) gave us access to numerous resources and text plus the most sought past questions and syllabus”. According to Kelvin, it is impossible to be called leaders and be informed if the place of research and reading is inaccessible. “Today images of this resource center is rather an eyesore, under whoever care, the state library has gone moribund, if as a state we are not reading and researching, how can we lead and be informed” He, therefore, called the attention of the State Governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom to Revamp the library. “I, therefore, call the attention of the Governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, to #ReviveOurLibrary” “We must build a sound generation and keep an informed citizenry” He continued.

Juliana Innocent lives in Unwaba-Oju, a village in Otahe Ward of Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue State in the North-central region of Nigeria. The closest community with a primary health care centre to her village is Ogobia, which lies at the end of a 70 km unpaved road. “While going to Ogobia for antenatal care in March 2021, I had an accident that fractured my leg and hurt my back,” she narrated. Months later when Mrs Innocent delivered a boy, the baby had tremor, an abnormal rhythmic shaking in the arms, feet, hands, head and legs of newborns. “I took the baby to hospital in Ogobia and the doctor said that he was suffering from low blood sugar. We were on admission for two weeks,” she said. But she could not keep up with the baby’s treatment schedule due to the distance of the hospital from her home. “Because of the distance and financial difficulties, I was using herbs and, unfortunately, the baby passed away eight months after delivery.”    Mrs Innocent said most people in Unwaba-Oju use traditional herbs when they could not travel to the towns to access health care. “Sometimes you may have money for hospital bills but you may not be able to pay for transport,” she said. Only two of her own seven children were delivered in the hospital. “I had the two when Unwaba-Oju Healthcare Centre was functioning.”  Challenges of accessing healthcare in rural Benue communities Mrs Innocent is a victim of the poor state of the primary healthcare system in Benue State. Accessing care can be a life-threatening ordeal, especially for people in the rural areas of the state where the burden of disease is disproportionately high. In some communities, pregnant women and their children travel more than 50 kilometres on motorcycles to access care. This undermines the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target 3.8, and the Nigerian government’s commitment to Universal Health Coverage (UHC), a journey towards making basic healthcare services accessible to citizens through primary healthcare centres. In May 2024, this reporter visited four local government areas in the state to assess their PHCs. The findings are depressing.  PHC Unwaba-Oju, Otahe Ward, Otukpo LGA Mrs Innocent’s community of Unwaba-Oju once had a PHC. But residents said  it has been abandoned for over a decade. Most of the windows of the dilapidated three-bedroom bungalow were either smashed in or missing. The facility was covered by cobwebs, dirt and dust and had become home for cats, lizards, rats and spiders. Inside the building were abandoned medical equipment, rusted metal bed frames and dirt-covered mattresses.  ‘Help us’  “Lack of access to healthcare has affected our community, especially pregnant women and children. When there’s an emergency, we take the patient to neighbouring communities but sometimes there are no means (of transportation),” Sunday Anyebe , the community’s youth leader, told this reporter. “Our women depend on traditional birth attendants and sometimes there are complications and fatalities.” Mr Anyebe appealed to the state government to address the healthcare challenges of the community. “We are appealing to our governor, Reverend. Hyacinth Alia, to come to our aid,” he said.  “This community has been without a healthcare facility for more than 10 years. The government should pity our women and children and provide healthcare services and facilities to enhance their quality of life,” Mr Anyebe said. PHC Tse-Indyer, Logo LGA  Zugwem Udoji, a 27-year-old housewife, lost her twins during childbirth at the PHC in Tse-Indyer.  She said the facility “crushed my opportunity of becoming a mother of twins.” Mrs Udoji said she was six months pregnant when she had a miscarriage. “I woke up that morning in February 2023 to an intense pain around my lower abdomen. When my husband took me to the clinic, there was no medicine to relieve me from the pains.”  Mrs Udoji said before the miscarriage, she was going for antenatal but was not tested or checked. “Even if you complain about something abnormal, they will either give you an injection or recommend medicine for you to go and buy,” she said. She still believed she would not have lost her pregnancy if the PHC in Tse-Indyer was adequately equipped. “I know that a hospital is supposed to carry out tests on pregnant women but that clinic doesn’t do that. I would have been a mother to twins.” When this reporter visited Mrs Udoji in her residence in Tse-Indyer, she was carrying a three months old baby she delivered after the loss of her twins.  Death of a woman 69-year-old Isaac Toryina lives in a small village called Tse-Torazege, about two kilometres away from Tse-Indyer. The village is located in Mbavuur North-West, 16-17 kilometres from Abeda-Shitile, a major town along the Abeda-Afia road in Mbavuur Ward of Logo LGA. On 27 December 2023, Mr Toryina lost his wife, Ngodoo,10 days after she delivered a baby at home with the help of a traditional birth attendant. Early in the morning of 27 December, she stepped out to urinate but slumped and fell into a coma. Mr Toryina rushed her to the Abeda-Shitile on a motorcycle. Unfortunately, Ngodoo was pronounced dead by the health workers on arrival in the PHC.  “My wife delivered at home because there’s no functional healthcare centre in this community. When she was pregnant and unwell, we went to PHC Tse-Indyer but we couldn’t get drugs there,” he said, fighting back tears. “After delivery, we went to a hospital in Abeda-Shitile and extracted mucus from the baby,”  Giving a picture of what led to his wife’s death, he said: “We went into bed that night and she was fine. Around 4 a.m. in the morning she stepped out to urinate and stayed beyond usual. I came out and found her lying unconscious. I couldn’t think of that clinic (referring to PHC Tse-Indyer) because even if we had gone there, we wouldn’t have found medicine.” Mr Toryina said his wife might have lived if there were facilities for emergency obstetrics services in his community. “If there were a good clinic in this area, her situation would have been managed and she would have been alive.”  Mrs Toryina left behind a five-month-old-child, who is being breast fed by nursing mothers in the community. When this reporter visited Tse-Torazege, his grief and sorrow was palpable as Mr Toryina sat alone on a wooden chair at the entrance of his hut.  PHC Tse-Indyer From outside, PHC Tse-Indyer looked like a clinic, but the courtyard was overgrown with weeds. Inside the building there was no ceiling board and the windows were broken. There was no waiting room. Two rickety beds complete the story of neglect.  Philip Shingir, the consulting Community Health Extension Worker (CHEW) in charge of the PHC, said it had no electricity, potable water or toilets, adding that the facility had no security guards and a staff quarters.  For child deliveries; Mr Shingir said he usually bought water for use, but during the rainy season the PHC staff use rainwater for cleaning, bathing and drinking. “Now that there’s no water, I usually send someone to a nearby town to collect water for the PHC,” Asked what he does in cases of emergency, he said; “I have a motorcycle. I will pick one gallon. From here to Abeda is about 16-17 kilometres,I will go there and get water,” he replied. The PHC was eerily quiet, without power supply, fan or solar lights. The empty medicine stores suggested not much was going on at the facility. No rooms designated for male and female patients. A few metres away from the delivery room are two clinical toilets which the health workers have turned into their sleeping quarters. Mr Shingir said the government only supplies antimalarial drugs to the clinic. “We can only test and treat common malaria infections here, not severe ones,” he added. “If there’s patients here, sometimes I use my personal money to buy medicine in Abeda for treatment. But we don’t accept in-patients, we prefer bed-rest because we lack capacity to do so,”  Asked if there was child delivery at night, he said “We can use local light or a handset that has light.” “We only have one bed in the maternity section. “If there are two women delivering at the same time we will look for a mat. The woman that is closer to deliver will stay on the delivery bed while the other one will sleep on the mat.” Is the government aware?  “Yes. The government does come for supervision and we equally give reports on the status of the health centre,” Mr Shingir responded to the question. The signage at PHC Tse-Indyer indicated that the centre was built by Logo Local Government Council and commissioned on 12 February, 2012 by George Akume, the governor of the state at the time.  PHC Awulema, Ohimini LGA Mercy Inalegwu, a mother of two, reflected on the past when newborns were checked for jaundice before leaving PHC Awulema. She said lack of equipment at the centre to check their bilirubin levels led to the death of three of her children.  “The first children were twins in 2005, a boy and a girl. I delivered at home because this hospital (referring to PHC Awulema) had nobody there. The girl passed at birth but the boy lived for four days and passed away,” Mrs Inalegwu recalled sorrowfully. She hadn’t known that newborns are supposed to be checked for jaundice before leaving a birth centre, until her sister told her. “When I lost my first two children, I explained what happened to my sister who stays in Port Harcourt and she told me it was jaundice. In 2009, I had twins again – both boys. One died immediately, I then followed my sister’s instructions by placing the living boy in the sun every morning and he survived,” she said.  “If there is a healthcare centre here in Awulema and there are health workers inside working, I wouldn’t have lost my children because it was just a similar case of jaundice. I am sure they would have noticed it,” she said. In Awulema, Ohimini LGA, accessing quality healthcare service at home is a mirage. The inhabitants travel to Otukpo to seek care or use herbs at home.  The PHC Awulema is in Oglewu Ehaje ward, along the Otukpo-Enugu road. The desolate facility is evidence of the serious deterioration in public health services in Benue State. The facility is collapsing with its untended garden growing wild. The only signs of life within the PHC at the time this reporter visited were the sounds of mice scuttling and scavenging for what had been left in the building.  Clement Okwubi, the head of Awulema village, has lived in the village for over 40 years. He said residents depend on herbs due to poor health care services in the community. “When one is sick, there are herbs that we use for treatment – when it is above us, we rush the person to Otukpo.”  The retired agricultural officer said poor health care service in his community had caused his people suffering, deaths and loss of function. “Those who cannot afford to seek medical care in Otukpo are giving up on life,” he said.  Due to the deplorable state of the PHC, the health workers have been relocated to an abandoned hospital project of the federal government in the community. But when this reporter visited the place, no one was seen at the facility. Asked about their whereabouts, Barack, not his real name, said: “They hardly come to work and even when they come they don’t stay long.” PHC, Tse-Kpum, Vandeikya LGA When this reporter visited Vandeikya in May, it was hard for him to locate PHC Tse-Kpum, as the facility is sandwiched between houses, along the Adikpo Vandeikya express road. You have to pass through people’s compounds to access the centre. The first thing you notice is that the walls of the old decrepit buildings are crumbling.  The facility is two mud blocks of […]

The Management of the University of Jos has claimed that it has allocated 50% of the total budget for the accreditation of the dentistry programme in the university. The spokesperson for UNIJOS, Abdullahi Abdullahi, confirmed to TheMiddlebelt Reporters that there is currently an engagement between the University Administration, the Medical and Dental Council, the Dental Faculty, and students to arrive at the best way forward.  Mr Abdullahi stated that over a Hundred Million Naira has been invested in preparing for the accreditation exercise, underscoring the administration’s commitment to ensuring the quality of education provided to our students, adding that the Dentistry programme at the university had been in operation for seven years before the current university administration taking office. “An official statement will be made in this regard immediately after the interaction. There are too many misleading reports going round so I want to be very precise when responding” Abdullahi said. On the shortage of staff, Mr Abdullahi said the university has recruited lecturers that are being paid from the University’s IGR since processes for employment through IPPIS are not forthcoming for now. “There are many other measures being taken which I’ll avail you whenever the official statement is ready.” He added Students from the Faculty of Dental Science at the University of Jos took to the streets on recently, protesting the delayed accreditation of their programmes by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria. Bearing placards with messages like “Unijos is careless over students’ future,” “We deserve better, merge Unijos Dental students,” and “Depression wan kill us, save us please,” the students stormed the university’s permanent site at the Naraguta campus. “We are tired of paying school fees without progress,” read another placard, reflecting the frustration of students who claim that in the faculty’s nine years of existence, not a single graduating set has been produced. Students who identified as Ernest Luke said Since 2021, dentistry students have not taken any exams beyond pathology and pharmacology, adding that the department is facing a shortage of staff thereby relying on guest lecturers. “We don’t have enough staff in the department. No facilities. No test, no exams” Luke lamented. In February, the Plateau State Government donated over 13 dental chairs worth almost ₦50 million to the university’s faculty of dental sciences. While receiving the donation from Governor Caleb Mutfwang. Tanko said the equipment fulfilled a key requirement for the dentistry programme accreditation, potentially ensuring the timely graduation of pioneer dentistry students.  The MDCN requires universities to provide qualified staff, support personnel, functional facilities, and a detailed curriculum to obtain a five-year dentistry program accreditation, with an additional fee of roughly ₦4 million.

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Jairus Awo

Jairus Awo is a Nigeiran Muiltimedia public interest journalist. He believes in the power of the media as a catalyst to development and societal growth. You can tip him an idea on [email protected]

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