POST ELECTION AUDIT: A CRITICAL BUT MISSING COMPONENT OF NIGERIA’S ELECTORAL SYSTEM

Our Programme Director Tony Ayoka was invited to speak at the inaugural National Association of Evaluators conference held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja on Nov 16 – 19, 2015.

His paper focused on democracy and good governance, elections in a democracy, free &fair and credible elections, post election audit and evaluation, principles of post election audit, methodologies in post election audit, post election audit in electoral process.

He emphasized that post election audit process will help reduce the unnecessarily high burden being placed on the judiciary as the final arbiter in the determination of the winner of an electoral contest.

Mr Ayoka challenged  the National Association of Evaluators push for the institution of post election audit as a statutory component of the electoral system in Nigeria as is obtained in more mature democracies.

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KEEPING TRACK OF THE ACTIVITIES OF NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

THE FACTS BEHIND THE OUTCOMES: KEEPING TRACK OF THE ACTIVITIES AND PROCESSES OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

A PAPER PRESENTED DURING THE PUBLIC SESSION ON THE INSTITUTIONAL NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HELD AT THE TRANSCORP HILTON, ABUJA ON THE 10TH OF NOV. 2015

PROTOCOLS

The National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is a bicameral legislature established under section 4 of the Nigerian Constitution. It consists of a Senate and House of Representatives. The Senate is the upper house of the National Assembly of Nigeria. It consists of 109 senators: the 36 states are each divided in 3 senatorial districts each electing one senator; the Federal Capital Territory elects only one senator. The President of the Senate is the presiding officer of the Senate, whose chief function is to guide and regulate the proceedings in the Senate.

The House of Representatives is the lower house of the country’s bicameral National Assembly. The current House of Representatives, formed following elections held in April 2015, has a total of 360 members. The Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives is the presiding officer of the house.

The Constitution has vested in the National Assembly the power to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of the Federation. The Assembly also has broad oversight functions and is therefore empowered to establish committees of its members to scrutinize bills and the conduct of government institutions and officials.

So for the National assembly to be able to deliver on these constitutional functions, there has to be strong and effective institutional structures and competencies delivering defined tasks that will help deliver on the constitutional functions expected from the National Assembly..

One key area in which the National Assembly has not been able to make appreciable progress is in the area of keeping count/track of National Assembly actions, activities as well as facts that define some of the outcomes that are eventually put into the public domain.

The achievement of the objectives of the National Assembly entails the scheduling and members participation in a whole range of activities that includes among others:-

  • Holding of plenary sessions.
  • Committee of the whole house meetings
  • Sponsoring of bills
  • Sponsoring of motions
  • Co-sponsoring of bills
  • Co-sponsoring of motions
  • Meetings of standing/adhoc committees.
  • Holding of public sessions
  • Organizing visits to MDA’s for oversight functions
  • Organizing/Participating in workshops, retreats and training activities.

These activities require the active and robust participation of distinguished Senators and Honourable members. There has to be a simple, effective and efficient administrative way of keeping track of these activities and also noting the inputs that go into them so that we can eventually reflect this into the outcomes that we have at the end of the day.

This process can be developed by strengthening some of the institutions of the National assembly such as the National Institute of Legislative studies (NILS) and the NASS CSO office. The Information and Communication Technology office in close collaboration with The Journal and Procedure office and working with the Library and documentation unit of NILS should be able to develop a procedure to guide this process.

The activities and items to be tracked should include but not limited to the following:-

A).The Senate/House of Representative

  • Number of plenary sessions held.
  • Individual members in attendance at the sessions.
  • Number of bills presented for consideration and by whom.
  • Number of motions presented and by whom
  • Number of bills passed.
  • Number of motions passed.
  • Number of all outstanding bills and at what stage they are.
  • Number of bills passed, assented and gazetted.

B). Standing Committees of the Senate/House of Representative.

  • Number of committee sittings held.
  • Which committee members were in attendance for each meeting?
  • Number of bills received from plenary for consideration
  • Number of public sessions held.
  • Which committee members were in attendance?
  • Number of bills transmitted back to plenary for clause by clause consideration
  • Number of bills emanating from committee and eventually passed by plenary.
  • Number of oversight visits conducted
  • Which members were present during the visits?
  • Number of workshops/training/retreats held or invited to participate.
  • Which members were in attendance?

C). Distinguished Senators/Honourable House Members.

  • Total no of plenary sessions for Senate/House.
  • Number of plenary sessions attended
  • Number of bills sponsored
  • No of bills co-sponsored.
  • Number of motions sponsored.
  • Number of motions co-sponsored.
  • Number of times he/she made contributions during plenary.
  • Number of committee he/she is heading or a member.
  • Number of times the committees had sittings.
  • Number of committee meetings attended.
  • Number of oversight visits expected to attend.
  • Number of oversight visits he/she participated.

These items are inclusive but not exhaustive by any means.

Such process should be developed as a routine administrative mechanism for developing an Assembly data pool and not as a monitoring mechanism for it to be successful. Tools can be developed that administratively feeds into a template that is collated on a periodic basis that will now be published at the end of each session of the National Assembly.

The publication while being a document of the National Assembly should also be available to other stakeholders for research, advocacy and other uses.

Thanks

Ayoka Anthony O.

Programme Director

Habitatcare and Protection Initiative

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HABITATCARE PARTNERS FORWARD AFRICA ON YOUTH ENGAGEMENT

The Technical Working Group, Imo State, which includes Forward Africa hosted a radio programme on Heartland Fm Owerri to create awareness on the need to empower youths in the society. The event was featured on the programme “Issues of The Moment” on Thursday 22nd of October 2015.

On the panel was Emeka Ulor (Program Officer, Habitatcare) and Dr. Adanze Duru

Issues of entrepreneurship, mentoring, infrastructure, seminars and volunteering were mentioned as part of the solutions to curb youth unemployment. 

Dr. Adanze Duru
Emeka Ulor

The Communications Officer for Forward Africa Uchechi Opara and Programme Officer Ikedinachi Ogamba were part of the facilitators for this insightful youth awareness programme.

Some of the callers, mostly young people, expressed frustration and observed the neglect by the authorities in assisting the huge number of youths towards meaningful engagement. There was a general suggestion for government to engage young people in every sector of the society especially in governance.

Habitatcare as an NGO based in Owerri, Imo State has strong interests in Youth Development, Environmental Sustainability, Health Improvement and Poverty Alleviation. Its activities are in line with the Sustaiable Development Goals.

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COP 20

What is COP?

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) entered into force in 1994, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. The Conference of the Parties (COP) was designated as the supreme governing body of the Convention.

To date, 195 countries have submitted their instruments of ratification. These countries meet once a year, during two weeks, in order to evaluate the application of the Convention and develop the negotiation process between the Parties in front of new commitments.

By virtue of this Convention, all the Parties have common but differentiated responsibilities. In addition, they take into account the specific nature of their national and regional development priorities, their goals and circumstances. According to the foregoing, their responsibilities are:

1. Gather and share information on greenhouse gas emissions, national policies and optimal practices.

2. Implement national strategies for addressing the issue on greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to foreseen impacts of climate change, as well as determining the provision of financial and technological support to developing countries.

3. Cooperate to be prepared and adapt to climate change effects.

Graph “Conference of the Parties (COP)”

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World Environment Dday 2015

The well-being of humanity, the environment, and the functioning of the economy, ultimately depend upon the responsible management of the planet’s natural resources. Evidence is building that people are consuming far more natural resources than what the planet can sustainably provide.

Many of the Earth’s ecosystems are nearing critical tipping points of depletion or irreversible change, pushed by high population growth and economic development. By 2050, if current consumption and production patterns remain the same and with a rising population expected to reach 9.6 billion, we will need three planets to sustain our ways of living and consumption.

The WED theme this year is therefore “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.” Living within planetary boundaries is the most promising strategy for ensuring a healthy future. Human prosperity need not cost the earth. Living sustainably is about doing more and better with less. It is about knowing that rising rates of natural resource use and the environmental impacts that occur are not a necessary by-product of economic growth.

– See more at: http://www.unep.org/wed/theme/sustainable-consumpion.asp#sthash.DsK8t742.dpuf

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2012 WORLD AIDS DAY OUTREACH

REPORT OF PRE WORLD AIDS DAY(WAD) – 2012 SCHOOL OUTREACH/SENSITIZATION PROGRAMME ORGANIZED BY HABITATCARE AND PROTECTION INITIATIVE AT CHRIST THE SAVIOUR SECONDARY SCHOOL,MBUTU, OKWUATO, ABOH MBAISE L.G.A. IMO STATE ON 28TH NOVEMBER, 2012.

As part of its awareness and public sensitization work on Health, hygiene and sanitation issues and as part of the commemoration of the 2012 World Aids Day Habitatcare and Protection Initiative organized a school outreach/sensitization programme. The programme held at Christ the Saviour Secondary School, Mbutu, Okwuato, Aboh Mbaise L.G.A. of Imo State and was organized in collaboration with the school authorities facilitated by a Corp member serving in the school, Engr. Emma Okoli. Habitatcare also involved her partners Geodora Samaritans Inc. The outreach/sensitization team was led by Tony Ayoka, Programme Director of Habitatcare. The participants at the event were staff and students of Christ the Saviour Secondary School, Mbutu, Okwuato, Aboh Mbaise.The programme activities included lectures and presentations using power point for illustrations as well as a courtesy call on the Co-ordinator of the School Mr. Victor and his staff.

INTRODUCTION

The team was welcomed by the Co-ordinator of the school Mr Victor. The programme started with a prayer said by Engr Emma Okoli. This was followed by welcome remarks from the Co-ordinator who informed the students that the school authorities in order to widen their horizon and improve on their world view decided to invite Habitatcare and Protection Initiative for the school sensitization programme at no cost to the students and so enjoined the students to make maximum use of the opportunity as it does not come every time by listening attentively to the presentations and making sure that they should be able to take something home after the event. In his opening remarks, Mr. Tony Ayoka the Programme Director of Habitatcare and Protection Initiative, identified the essence of the programme as the need to continually sensitize students especially those in the rural areas on contemporary social issues as they are always at a disadvantage compared with their counterparts in the urban areas as most sensitization programmes and activities are always concentrated in the urban areas. He informed the students that the programme is part of the organizations school/community outreach programme and enjoined them to make good use of the opportunity.

PAPER PRESENTATIONS

The first presentation was made by Richard Nwamadi and it was titled Reproductive Health Issues, HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s). The paper covered areas such as Overview of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Basic Facts about HIV/AIDS, Relationship between STI’s and HIV/AIDS, Modes of Transmission of HIV, Ways of preventing HIV infection and opportunistic infections. He also discussed what actions can be taken in the communities to stop or reduce the spread of HIV, The myths and misconceptions as well as the facts on HIV/AIDS. In concluding, he drew a link between HIV/AIDS, Reproductive Health and Sanitation and Hygiene Issues and the need for a total approach in the efforts to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS. In his presentation, the Corp liaison, Emma Okoli talked on Strategic Mentality for Academic success. He defined academic success and discussed the universality of the principles of academic success He outlined the laws of academic success as:- a).The law of personal discovery. B).The law of vision and goal setting. C).The law of relationships. D).The law of diligence. E).The law of divine help. He fully enumerated on how the students can apply it to work for them in their educational and life pursuits. The presentation was well received by the students. The Programme director of Habitatcare and Protection Initiative Tony Ayoka made a presentation on The role of Non Governmental Organizations (NGO’s)/Civil Society Organizations (CSO’s) in community development. He defined NGO’s, CBO’s and CSO’s and discussed the features of these organizations. He told them about the need for Vision, Mission and Objectives in identifying with or forming and sustaining NGO’s as well as the need for passion and attribute of volunteerism which is the hallmark of any successful civil society person and essential in operating a civil society organization. He related the work of civil society organizations the programme organized in their school by Habitatcare and Protection Initiative in partnership with their school authorities and elaborated on how these help fill up knowledge and service gaps that exist in the society and that is not effectively covered by Government, its agencies and other formal institutions. At the end of the presentations, there was a question and answer session in which the students raised a lot of issues from the presentations and even their personal experiences. Ruth Anyanwu asked what they as students can do in the fight against HIV/AIDS, Onyeneke Confidence wanted to know if there is any drug that can cure STD infections, Ndukwu Wisdom asked what can be done in the communities to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, Umunakwe Wisdom asked how one can identify a person with HIV infection and Anyanwu Lawson asked if a nursing mother who is infected with HIV can breastfeed her baby. These questions were addressed by the presenters and the students expressed satisfaction with the answers they received. At the end of the presentations, the co-ordinator made a vote of thanks on behalf of the school and the programme ended with a prayer said by one of the students Loveth Ebewele.

CONCLUSION.

The programme was a success as the presentations were enthusiastically received by the students and they demonstrated this by their active participation in the question and answer session. Habitatcare would have loved to make the session more elaborate with more time allocated with more resource persons making presentations to cover more grounds but was constrained by funds as the programme was self sponsored and there were no funds available for snacks and drinks so the sessions and presentations were abridged. There is a need for follow up activities to encourage the students to form PEP clubs so that they can take the message they have learnt to their peers and their communities. Habitatcare expresses our profound thanks to everybody who in whatever way contributed in making the programme a success. The co-ordinator Mr Victor Iwuh Addressing the Students. Mr Nwamadi Richard making Presentations Corp member Emma Okoli making his presentation. Students listen with rapt attention Habitatcare Programme Director Tony Ayoka Making a presentation. Students being part of the interaction Closing prayers.

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LEAP YOUTH LEADERSHIP WORKSHOP

Emeka Ulor (Program Officer, Habitatcare) attended the famous LEAP Values and Leadership Skills programme in Lagos, the program was focused on building socially responsible youth to lead their communities positively.The training featured lecture sessions, mentoring, group presentations and a pledge to become a responsible youth for the transformation of the country.

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035 Olamide Idowu and Emeka Ulor

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Owolabi Tobi Isaiah (middle)

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POST WED 2012 :SCHOOL OUTREACH/SENSITIZATION PROGRAMME

REPORT OF POST WED 2012 SCHOOL OUTREACH/SENSITIZATION PROGRAMME      ORGANIZED BY HABITATCARE AND PROTECTION INITIATIVE AT COMMUNITY TECHNICAL SCHOOL UMUEZEGWU, IHITTE UBOMA L.G.A. IMO STATE ON 15TH JUNE, 2012.

In furtherance of its work in the area of Environment and Sustainable Development, Habitatcare and Protection Initiative organized an outreach/sensitization programme as part of her post World Environment Day 2012 activities. The programme was organized in consultation with Community Technical School Umuezegwu and the host community represented by Hon. Chris Nwahiri and the principal of the school Mrs.I.C.Ukanyirioha. Habitatcare also involved her partners such as National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), and Environment and Tourism Support Initiative (EATS-i).

The outreach/sensitization team was led by Tony Ayoka, Programme Director of Habitatcare and other resource persons from NESREA and EATS-i. The participants at the event included staff and students of Community Technical School, Umuezegwu.The programme activities included lectures, tree planting, malaria rapid diagnostic test (RDT) and an advocacy visit to the Transition Committee Chairman of Ihitte Uboma Local Government Area.

INTRODUCTION

The sensitization team was welcomed by the principal of Community Technical College Umuezegwu, Ihitte Uboma Mrs. I. C. Ukanyrioha. The event took off with an opening remark by Mr. Tony Ayoka the Programme  Director of Habitatcare and Protection Initiative, organizers of the event. During his remarks, he introduced the team and gave a brief summary of the day’s event. He also briefly told the students about the observance of the World Environment Day as a United Nations approved day to highlight environment issues and the theme for this year’s commemoration which is The Green Economy: Are you involved. This was followed by a goodwill message from Honourable Chris Nwahiri who was the community liaison for the event.

FIRST SESSION

The first session was a lecture titled Sanitation, Health and Environment: Challenges in a rural ccommunity presented by Meg Chukwu of EATS-i. Her lecture centered on the importance of keeping the environment clean, ways of maintaining green environment and the dangers of open defecation in the communities. The session was interactive as students were allowed to contribute and participate actively. Some of the questions asked by students at the end of the session include: The negative effects of marching on excreta, if excreta helps plants to grow and the dangers of exposing food. The facilitator in reacting to the questions said that exposed excreta can easily get in contact with food and other edibles which can lead to diarrhea and other diseases and advised students not to be defecating openly and stressed on the need for every home and public place to have good toilet facilities. As for defecating in the farm for it to serve as manure, she said the disadvantages outweigh the advantages because the excreta can be washed into the stream by rain thereby contaminating water. On exposing foods, she advised students to always cover their foods because flies and other organisms can contaminate them.

SECOND SESSION

The second lecture was on The Green Economy and the Environment: How you are involved, delivered by Mrs. Ijeoma Adibe of NESREA. She started by enlightening the students about her organization, their objectives and roles in the society. She told them that NESREA has clubs in secondary schools where students are sensitized on their roles and responsibilities in maintaining a good environment. She then explained the meaning of green economy. She highlighted on the difference between natural and man-made forest. She enumerated some of the things we do that affect our environment and their negative effects. Some of them are animal poaching, oil spillage, bush burning, littering of waste and burning of electronic devises. She went ahead to highlight some of the role of students in maintaining green economy which includes reporting any act of violation of the environment to NESREA. The organizer, Mr. Tony Ayoka in summarizing the topic advised each student to plant at least 2 trees every year and plant 5 trees for each tree that is cut down. The session was very participatory as she projected her work on the screen and used pictures and diagrams to illustrate her points. Some of the questions the students asked at the end of the session are: the negative effects of having telecommunication mast near the home, the proper way of disposing water sachets and if one can get HIV from sharing sachet water. In reaction, she explained that mast should be built 10 meters away from the home to avoid noise pollution and air pollution from their generating set. On the proper way to dispose water sachet, she said that they should be gathered together and sold to people who recycle them and she also mentioned that HIV cannot be transmitted through sharing of sachet water.

THIRD SESSION

The third lecture was on Civil Rights and Civic Responsibilities: The role of NGO’s in Governance, by Amaka Biachi. She started by explaining the meaning of civil rights and responsibilities, the role of non-governmental organizations in governance which according to her includes carrying out oversight function to ensure that the constitution is properly implemented. She advised students to always obey civil laws, abide by their school’s rules and regulations and to always respect their teachers. She said people should avoid violence even when expressing their grievances and that everyone has a role to play in making a better society. She advised them against discriminating people because of their race, colour or sex. In summary, Mr. Tony Ayoka thanked the students and teachers for the audience they granted the team and for their active participation in the lectures and their large turnout for the malaria Rapid Diagnostic Test. The Principal was called upon to give her vote of thanks. The Principal Mrs. Ukanyrioha in her vote of thanks thanked the organizers. Habitatcare and Protection Initiative, and the team for choosing her school for the event. She expressed happiness that an occasion like this can be organized in a school like hers located in a rural community. She also expressed her willingness to continually partner with the organizers for more of such programmes in the future including the establishment of an Environment club in the school.

The event came to an end with tree planting exercise during which a total of ten trees were planted as a demonstration. The students, teachers and members of the sensitization team took turns in the tree planting exercise. The tree planting was witnessed by all the participants. The trees were brought by the organizers, Habitatcare.

The team also paid a courtesy call to the Transition Chairman of Ihitte Uboma local government area, Barr. O.C. Konkwo, at the council’s headquarters. He thanked the team for their sensitization efforts as they are doing a great job in taking governance to the grassroots especially in bringing to limelight some of the issues that would have normally been overlooked by government. He also expressed willingness of the local government to partner with the team in organizing more programmes in the local government.

CONCLUSION

The programme was largely successful as all the set objectives were achieved. Habitatcare would have loved to plant more trees but had constraints in the sourcing of the tree seedlings. There is also need for follow up especially in getting the students to put in practice the tree planting by going ahead to plant more trees in their homes, farms and environment and monitor and track such progress. There can also be a follow up visit to facilitate the establishment of a Environment/Green club in the school.  Habitatcare thanks everybody who contributed in one way or the other to make the programme a success.

The School’s Principal -Mrs. I. C. Ukanyrioha planting her tree

Programme Director Habitatcare – Tony Ayoka plants a tree

Teachers and Students Plant Trees

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WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY(WED) 2012 COMMEMORATION IN OWERRI IMO STATE, NIGERIA

Habitatcare and Protection Initiative joined other stakeholders in Imo State of Nigeria to celebrate the 2012 World Environment Day with the theme ‘Green Economy: Does it include you’. This involved a series of activities that were planned to highlight issues of the environment especially as it concerns the theme for the year. An essay competition was organized for students of secondary schools so as to take the message of the environment down to them and inculcate the habit of environmental consciousness in them at an early stage.

World Environment Day celebration at Concorde Hotel Owerri

A stakeholder’s consultative/interactive forum was held on the 4th
June, 2012 at the conference room of the UNIDO laboratory, Ministry of Environment, Prefab Area, Owerri, Imo State Nigeria. This was to set the stage for the main commemorative activity and involved different stakeholders such as civil society, women groups, market leaders, youth groups, students, the academia, environment practitioners and people from the government ministries and parastatals. The forum was anchored by Dr. Odili Ojukwu and included a paper on ‘The state of Environment of Imo State: An Overview’ presented by the Imo state commissioner for Petroleum and Environment Chief Steve Ahaneku. It was a very interactive session where participants had opportunity to articulate issues of the environment from their perspective and proffer practical methods of addressing adverse issues of the environment. It also discussed how the environment concerns us all especially the ‘Green Economy’ and how to keep environmental issues and concerns on the front burner of contemporary discourse. About 100 participants were in attendance and a communiqué was issued at the end of the forum.

Government Officials at the WED 2012

On June, 7th 2012, the official commemorative activity in the state
held at the Concorde Hotel, Owerri, Imo State and was attended by the State Governor Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha and his wife with other prominent government officials.

Cross-Section of Paricipants

NESREA Staff Staged a Play to buttress the theme

The Omenimo Cultural Dance Troupe entertained!

People from all walks of life and strata of society were in attendance and the activities for the day included a video documentary on ‘Green Economy’. There was a commemorative public lecture delivered by Prof. M. O. E. Iwuala of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri with the topic ‘Green Economy; The Practical Implications’ which was well received by the audience. There were also goodwill messages from partners and stakeholders with an appearance by the Miss Earth, 2011/2012, Munachi Uzoma. Awards were presented to the winners of the essay competition and the activities were spiced up with cultural performances by the Omenimo cultural troupe of Imo State as well as a playlet/drama by the group from National Environmental Standards Regulatory and Enforcement Agency (NESREA) office in Owerri. Over 500 participants attended the event. All together it was a worthwhile way to commemorate the 2012 WED as post WED activities are still going on.

 

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HIV/AIDS EPIDEMIC: GETTING TO ZERO

 HIV/AIDS EPIDEMIC: GETTING TO ZERO

World AIDS Day was first conceived in August 1987 by James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter, two public information officers for the Global Programme on AIDS (now known as UNAIDS) at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. The first observance of World AIDS Day was 1 December, 1988. The theme for the 2011World AIDS Day commemoration is “Getting to Zero”. Zero New HIV Infections, Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS Related Deaths. The “Getting to Zero” campaign runs until 2015 and builds on last year’s successful World AIDS Day “Light for Rights” initiative.

HIV/AIDS is a global crisis. Nigeria with a population of 152.6 million people and estimated HIV prevalence of 4.1 % in the general population has the second largest population of people living with HIV/AIDS after South Africa. It is estimated that 3.10 million people are living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria as at the end of 2010.

 Among the early achievements recorded in the fight against HIV/AIDS include the promotion of safer sex behavior, blood safety measures, reduction of HIV transmission through piercing objects like injections and razor blades and establishment of HIV/AIDS Counseling and Testing (HCT) centers. The 2010 United Nations General Assembly (UNGASS) report shows that Nigeria has experienced progress with some indicators which include:

• Percentage of adults and children with advanced HIV infection receiving antiretroviral therapy, which increased from 16.7% (2008) to 34.4% (2010)

• Percentage of HIV-positive pregnant women who receive antiretroviral medicines to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission from 5.3% (2008) to 21.59% (2010)

• Percentage of estimated HIV-positive incident Tuberculosis (TB) cases that received treatment for TB and HIV from 55.95% (2008) to 69.1% (2010)

• Percentage of women and men aged 15–49 who received an HIV test in the last 12 months and who know the results from 8.6% (2008) to 11.7% (2010)

Despite the recorded achievements, the national HIV/AIDS epidemiological survey still presents a very worrisome picture. Some of the national HIV/AIDS epidemiological indices as at the end of 2010 are: Annual HIV positive births: 56,681; Cumulative AIDS deaths: 2.1 million (Male – 970,000; Female – 1.61 million); Annual AIDS Death: 215,130 (Male – 96,740; Female – 118,390); Number requiring Antiretroviral therapy: 1,512,720 (Adult – 1,300,000; Children – 212,720); New HIV infection: 281,180 (Adult – 126,260; Children – 154,920); Total AIDS Orphans: 2,229,883. The national HIV zero-prevalence rate has moved from a low of 1.8 in 1991 to a peak of 5.8 in 2001 before stabilizing to 4.1 in 2010. In Imo State, the prevalence has reduced from 4.6 in 2008 to 3.0 (urban 3.2, rural 2.7) in 2010.

The most-at-risk populations (MARPs) for HIV infection include female sex workers (FSWs), intravenous drug users (IDUs), men who have sex with men (MSM), long-distance drivers, and members of the uniformed services. The result of the mode of HIV transmission analysis in Nigeria carried out by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) in 2008 showed that about 62% of new infections occur among persons perceived as practicing “low risk sex’ in the general population including married sexual partners. The rest of the new infections (38 percent) are attributable to IDUs, FSWs, MSM and their partners who constitute about 3.5 percent of the adult population.

The key drivers of the HIV epidemic in Nigeria include: low personal risk perception, multiple sexual partnerships, transactional sex, inefficient services for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and inadequate access to and poor quality of healthcare services. Entrenched gender inequities, chronic poverty, and stubborn persistence of HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination also significantly contribute to the continuing spread of the infection.

The National Strategic Framework(NSF)2005-09 identified a number of strategies to prevent new HIV infections and promote behavior change and these include HIV Counseling and Testing (HCT); Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV; Prevention of Biomedical Transmission of HIV; Early Detection, Treatment, and Control of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs); Condom Promotion); Communication Interventions targeting the general population on the one hand and most-at-risk populations (MARPs) on the other hand;

This National Strategic Plan (NSP) 2009-2015 is in line with two important international commitments that Nigeria has signed on especially the Millennium Development Goals and the Universal Access (UA) to HIV/AIDS prevention and care and treatment services. The major priority of the NSP 2010-15 is to reposition HIV prevention as the centerpiece of the national HIV/AIDS response. Thus greater focus will be placed on scaling-up HIV prevention services that enable individuals to maintain their HIV negative status as well as improve access to quality treatment and care services for People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV).  

Despite recent improvements in federal government financial contributions, HIV/AIDS response remains largely donor dependant. Domestic sources account for only 5 % of resources needed; with vast pools of private sector resources still largely untapped. Many states actually made zero allocation for HIV/AIDS activities in 2009. The major aim is to leverage increased political and resource commitment to the national response by all stakeholders while ensuring transparency and accountability for all resources allocated for the national response.

The NSF strategic plan has been domesticated in Imo State by the production of the Imo State HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan 2010-2015. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have made outstanding contributions to Nigeria’s HIV/AIDS prevention efforts in areas such as collaboration and networking in sourcing for funding and implementing programs, partnership with government agencies and the private sector and program implementation and research where CSOs have shown leadership. Quite a number of HIV program interventions in Nigeria are being managed by international NGOs working with local counterparts. Despite the achievements of CSOs in Nigeria, there are a number of challenges militating against their successes. Some of these challenges are limited institutional capacity, poor documentation, monitoring and evaluation, donor driven agenda and poor resource mobilization:

There is an ongoing scale up of ART, PMTCT and HCT services in public, private and faith based institutions across the country. As at end of 2010, there has been scale-up of ART(446), PMTCT(675) and HCT(1046) sites respectively in Nigeria, from an initial 20 sites in 2002.In Imo State, there are nine comprehensive sites where all the services(ART, PMTCT and HCT) can be accessed. They are Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, General Hospitals in Owerri, Awo-omama, Okigwe and Aboh Mbaise. Imo State University Teaching Hospital, Orlu. St. Damian’s Okporo and Joint Hospital Mbano.

As the world commemorates the 2011 World Aids Day, the activities in Imo State will include a road show and rally on the 1st of December at FSP Wetheral road organized by the Imo State Agency for the Control of AIDS (IMOSACA) and it’s collaborating partners and a stakeholders forum on the 2nd of December at the Owerri Municipal Council Hall being organized by the Civil Society on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (CiSHAN) Imo State chapter and its partners. You are invited to be part of these activities and join your voice in spreading the HIV/AIDS message in other to stop the spread of the HIV virus.

 

A VIEWPOINT ON THE COMMEMORATION OF THE 2011 WORLD AIDS DAY WRITTEN BY TONY AYOKA O. AND BROADCAST BY RADIO NIGERIA HEARTLAND F.M 100.5 ON 1ST OF DEC.2011.

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