Friday, June 23, 2017

Calls for law against female genital mutilation to be introduced in Nigeria

Preston Development Foundation, a non-governmental organization in Nigeria, on Thursday organized a program in Abuja to campaign against female genital mutilation.

The World Health Organization said Nigeria has the highest prevalence rate of FGM in the world, with about 40 million women said to have undergone the practice in the country, thus indicating about 41 per cent prevalence.

The awareness stunt, held at the Federal Ministry of Health car park at the Federal Secretariat, Abuja, required the campaigners to lie on the ground as a sign of advocating against the practice, and to symbolize the harm it does to women, especially during child birth.

According to the WHO, FGM includes all procedures involving the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for cultural and non-medical reasons.

Zikar Elendu, programme officer, PDF, said the organisation embarked on the awareness campaign because of new cases in the country.

She urged the federal government to take stringent measures to campaign against the practice, especially within the hospital environment.

“Our lying down here symbolizes what happens to many of those cut during child birth. Many of them die during child birth, many of them have difficulty during labour because they have been cut, most of them cannot enjoy the sexual aspect of life and it is wrong”.

Ms. Elendu said women cut were punished for crimes they were yet to commit.

“It is like sending them to jail for a crime they have not committed. Female Genital Mutilation makes girls pay a lifetime price for an “offence” they did not and might never commit.

“Promiscuity which is arguably the major reason for female circumcision in Nigeria has been proven to be more related to poverty, peer influence, poor parental supervision and drug use and not necessarily being uncircumcised. FGM is a violation of the human rights of girls and women”.

She said 40 million women and girls in Nigeria have undergone FGM and urged government to take serious measures to fight the practice.

“At PDF, we believe that FGM is more than a policy. We believe that behind every statistical expression is a victim, a girl child that has paid a lifetime price. We want the layman on the street to know about the dangers of FGM. We want every mother to know that FGM is in no way an empowerment. We want women to know that FGM has never been about the girl’s good or happiness.

“That is why we have organised this awareness stunt and social media campaign to demand action in order to end FGM. We hereby urge urgent action from the government as well as communities to end FGM,” she said.

Ms. Elendu said government passing a law against it would go a long way to reduce the practice and pains women go through during child birth.

Nwando Onuigbo-Chatta, the knowledge management officer of the organisation, said Nigeria might be able to reduce the high rate of maternal mortality if FGM is stopped as it is one of the causes of death during child birth.

“Though there is no statistics in the country to specify how many people lose their lives during child birth due to complications of FGM, it is a known fact that some people die during the process because they have been cut.

“We want more than just words for the government to ban the practices, we want action, as we believe if the government join hand with us to prosecute people who carry out these acts, we will be to discourage people and get an end to it,” she said.

A survey conducted by the United Nations Population Funds, UNFPA, in 2015 showed that the practice was high in the South-West in spite of the geo-political zone’s high literacy and awareness rate.

The report said Osun State still ranked highest in the prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation practice in Nigeria with over 76.3 per cent, followed by Ekiti which had 71.2, Oyo, 69.7; Ebonyi, 55.6; Imo, 48.8; and Lagos, 44.8 per cent.

Video - Nigeria rolls out 1st national social-welfare program

Nigeria is rolling out its first national social-welfare program modeled partly on Brazil's Bolsa Familia. The move is a bid to boost a weak economy and curb poverty by giving cash to its poorest citizens while ensuring their children go to school. Africa's most-populous nation is investing 1.5 billion dollars in the initiative this year and is talking to the World Bank about a 500 million dollar loan. Launched in December, the program is initially targeting about 1 million households starting in eight of Nigeria's 36 states. The government expects that reducing poverty will have a knock-on effect for the rest of the economy.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Video - Nigerians frustrated by current state of the country

Nigerians are becoming increasingly frustrated with the state of the economy. And although the government says it's doing all it can to lift the country out of recession, many are concerned that it may be a while before things change for the better.

Nigeria introduces $2 billion social-welfare plan

Nigeria is rolling out its first national social-welfare program modeled partly on Brazil’s Bolsa Familia in a bid to boost a weak economy and curb poverty by giving cash to its poorest citizens and ensuring their children go to school.

The government of Africa’s most-populous nation is investing 500 billion naira ($1.5 billion) in the initiative this year and is talking to the World Bank about a $500 million loan, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning Zainab Ahmed said in an interview in the capital, Abuja. Launched in December, the program is initially targeting about 1 million households starting in eight of Nigeria’s 36 states. The government expects that reducing poverty will have a knock-on effect for the rest of the economy, she said.

“It increases money in the hands of people,” Ahmed said. “It means they are contributing towards consumption and an increase in consumption is desirable because it now encourages producers to produce more and as producers produce more it means they are able to employ more people.”

As in Brazil, Nigeria’s plan requires cash-transfer beneficiaries to fulfill two conditions: keep their children in school and immunize them. It also includes providing school meals, short-term job training for graduates, loans at below-market rates to 1.6 million potential entrepreneurs, grants for science and technology students and low-cost housing.

The state will use biometric systems to register beneficiaries, and will make transfers into bank accounts that are opened for families’ caregivers, Ahmed said.

President Muhammad Buhari’s administration seems committed to make it a success, said Esili Eigbe, the head of Nigerian equities at Exotix Capital.

“Other administrations tried to do this before, but not with the kind of determination of Buhari’s administration,” Eigbe said by phone from the commercial capital, Lagos. “The enormous political will and a strong partner in the World Bank shows their determination to do it.”

Economic Strain

The program is still in its infancy compared to similar projects in countries such as Brazil, which started Bolsa Familia in 2003 and will probably increase its social-security budget to 83.3 billion reais ($25 billion) this year, according to the Planning and Budget Ministry. South Africa, with a population about a third of Nigeria’s 180 million people, plans to spend about 180 billion rand ($13.8 billion) on social assistance.

Nigeria’s drive to set up a social-welfare program comes at a time of economic strain, and analysts such as Magnus Kpakol, director at Abuja-based consultancy Economic and Business Strategies, doubt whether the country can afford it now.

Tight Money

“I am afraid that a day will come, they will strand these people,” said Kpakol, who a decade ago led a welfare pilot program featuring the nation’s first conditional cash transfers. “They will just raise their hands and surrender and say we don’t have the money.”

The decline in production and price of oil, Nigeria’s biggest export, crippled West Africa’s largest economy, which shrank 1.6 percent in 2016, the first full-year contraction since 1991. Dollar shortages pushed the inflation rate to the highest in more than a decade in January.

The need for such a program is clearly stark. More than 65 percent of Nigerians live on less than $2 a day and as many as 12 million children are malnourished, according to the Budget and Planning Ministry.

The World Bank, which supports 30 sub-Saharan African countries that disburse money to fight extreme poverty, estimated in a May 2016 report that giving Nigeria’s poor households 60,000 naira annually would reduce poverty to 27.6 percent from 33 percent within a year, if 80 percent of the money was spent on consumption.

Nigeria’s target is to reach 5 million cash-transfer beneficiary households in five years from the 27,000 currently receiving 5,000 naira a month. The World Bank credits Brazil’s Bolsa Familia with lifting more than 28 million people out of poverty in a decade, increasing school enrollment and improving children’s health.

“The cash transfers are similar to Brazil’s in conditions and objectives, but it’s still early to tell how the results will compare,” Eigbe said. “The most important thing is making a whole lot of people employable by ensuring children get some education and are healthy.”

Nigeria set to become 3rd most populated country in the world by 2050

Nigeria is projected to be the world’s third most populous country by the year 2050, according to a report released by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

The report, titled ‘World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision’, said with such development, Nigeria would overtake the United States in terms of population just as world population would reach 9.8 billion people.

The report said “by 2050, the third most populous country will be Nigeria, which currently ranks seventh, and which is poised to replace the United States.

“Among the 10 largest countries of the world, one is in Africa (Nigeria). “Amongst these, Nigeria’s population, currently the seventh largest in the world, is growing the most rapidly. “Consequently, the population of Nigeria is projected to surpass that of the United States shortly before 2050, at which point it would become the third largest country in the world. 

“In 2050, the populations in six of the 10 largest countries are expected to exceed 300 million: China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and United States of America (in alphabetical order). “Africa, which has the youngest age distribution of any region, is projected to experience a rapid ageing of its population, the report noted. “Although the African population will remain relatively young for several more decades, the percentage of its population aged 60 or over is expected to rise from five per cent in 2017 to around nine per cent in 2050, and then to nearly 20 per cent by the end of the century.” 

In addition, the birth rates in African countries are likely to “at least double” by 2050, according to the report. That trend came in spite of lower fertility rates in nearly all regions of the world, including in Africa, where rates fell from 5.1 births per woman up to 2005 to 4.7 births in the five years following.

In terms of other population trends depicted in the report, the population of India, which currently ranks as the second most populous country with 1.3 billion inhabitants, will surpass China’s 1.4 billion citizens, by 2024. The report noted that the world population, now at least 7.6 billion, was up from 7.4 billion in 2016, adding the concentration of global population growth is in the poorest countries. 

The report said in spite of an overall drop in the number of children people have around the globe, the population was spurred by the relatively high levels of fertility in developing countries. “With roughly 83 million people being added to the world’s population every year, the upward trend in population size is expected to continue, even assuming that fertility levels will continue to decline. “At this rate, the world population is expected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and surpass 11.2 billion in 2100,” the report further revealed. 

The growth is expected to come, in part, from the 47 least developed countries, where the fertility rate is around 4.3 births per woman, and whose population is expected to reach 1.9 billion people in 2050 from the current estimate of one billion. In contrast, the birth rates in Europe are up to 1.6 births per woman, up from 1.4 births in 2000 to 2005. “During 2010 to 2015, fertility was below the replacement level in 83 countries comprising 46 per cent of the world’s population,” according to the report. 

The lower fertility rates are resulting in an ageing population, with the number of people aged 60 or over expected to more than double by 2050 and triple by 2100, from the current 962 million to 3.1 billion. The UN Department said the population growth presented a challenge as the international community sought to implement the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda seeking to end poverty and preserve the planet. 

The report also noted the impacts of migrants and refugees between countries, in particular noting the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis and the estimated outflow of 4.2 million people. In terms of migration, “although international migration at or around current levels will be insufficient to compensate fully for the expected loss of population tied to low levels of fertility, especially in the European region, the movement of people between countries can help attenuate some of the adverse consequences of population ageing”.