Covid-19

Buhari Charges Varsity to Develop COVID-19 Vaccine

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday tasked the University of Ilorin to play a leading role in research and production of vaccines locally.

Buhari, also, appealed to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other unions within and outside the university system to always give peace a chance.

He gave this charge through Prof. Ignatius Onimawo of National Universities Commission, who represented him at the 36th convocation of the university held in Ilorin.

“The nation expects your university to play a leading role in research efforts to develop COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria. The nation expects nothing less from the Nigerian university system.’’
Buhari equally challenged all universities to give their best in the fight against infections and diseases.
He also appealed to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to embrace peace, adding that dialogue was always better than conflict.

“No one gains from crisis. While government alone cannot solve all challenges facing a society, this administration is willing to listen to complaints and alternative points of view to managing a situation.
“The university system cannot withstand any crisis now considering the time it had lost to Coronavirus pandemic,’’ he submitted.

He reiterated government’s resolve to prioritise and promote teacher education to raise the quality of teaching in the country.

Prof. Onimawo who also represented the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, at the occasion noted that the University of Ilorin had excelled in several disciplines.
He noted also that the university is one of those that had enjoyed very stable academic calendars over the years.

“In the last couple of years, the University of Ilorin has had the highest students’ subscription in JAMB enrolment.
“As of today, the University of Ilorin has become the university of choice in Nigeria,’’ he said.
Earlier in his address of welcome, Prof. Sulyman Abdulkareem, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin said the university sustained the reputation of running seamless academic sessions in spite of the COVID-19 lockdown.

The university awarded degrees to 10,922 graduates at the ceremony.
At the graduate level, 180 bagged First Class degrees, 2,836 got Second Class Upper Division, 4,879 got Second Class Lower Division, and 1,110 had Third Class degrees while there were 14 passes.
There were 142 graduates who bagged Postgraduate diplomas, 1,142 had Masters Degrees while 113 had Masters in Business Administration.

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Covid-19

FG Issues New Travel Protocol to Ease COVID-19 Restrictions

Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, yesterday disclosed that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had issued a revised protocol for in-bound travellers to reflect the United Kingdom’s decision to ease restrictions on fully vaccinated travellers from Nigeria, which took effect from October 11. Ehanire revealed this during a media briefing in Abuja.

The minister explained that the new health protocol was in keeping with the Presidential Steering Committee’s removal of three countries – South Africa, Turkey, and Brazil – from the restricted list following satisfactory report of the review of developments in those countries. He said proactive measures were being taken by the government to curb the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the effect on the health system.

Ehanire said in line with the recent directive that with effect from December 1, all federal government employees must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result done within 72 hours before gaining access to their offices, it was envisaged that there would be increased demand for COVID-19 vaccine.

According to him, in order to enhance access to COVID-19 vaccine, the Federal Ministry of Health, through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, was working on ways to enhance security features of COVID-19 the vaccination card to reduce forgery.

He said the Ministry was planning to establish vaccination sites at public places with high human traffic across the country, such as universities, polytechnics, shopping malls, religious centres, sporting events, conference centres, and markets.

Ehanire also disclosed that the ministry would accredit some private health care facilities as COVID-19 vaccination sites.

Giving further updates on the COVID19 pandemic, Ehanire said over the last four weeks, about 3,141,795 million persons had been tested for COVID-19 using either PCR or RDT. He said the trend of infection showed a decline in some states while other states were still experiencing increase in confirmed cases.

Ehanire also spoke on efforts toward increasing the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine for all eligible Nigerians. He said on October 14, the Nigeria government received from the US government a donation of 3,577,860 doses of Pfizer vaccine through COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access known as COVAX.

The minister stated, “As at today, the Nigeria government has received over 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines and based on delivery forecasts from the COVAX facility and the African Union, Nigeria will have adequate vaccines to cover more than 50 per cent of eligible populations by the end of the first quarter of 2022.

“Statistics generated by NPHCDA indicates that as at 17th October, 2021, a total of 5,337,635 eligible populations have received the first dose representing 4.8 per cent of Nigeria’s target population, while 2,665,173 have been vaccinated with the second dose, signifying 2.4 per cent of the target vaccination of 70 per cent of the population by 2022.

“We encourage Nigerians, who received the vaccines, to complete the second doses and all Nigerians that are eligible to avail themselves to receive the vaccines.”

The minister also said plans were underway to repurpose the N10 billion fund meant to support local manufacturing of vaccines. He said a proposal was being considered to transform the N10 billion fund provided in the 2021 budget to serve as grant to support the Bio-Vaccine Nigeria Limited to set up necessary framework and machineries for the actualisation of the dream of local manufacturing of vaccines.

Regarding the renewed drive for COVID-19 mass vaccination, he said the government had in stock at the moment about nine million doses of vaccines to administer to eligible Nigerians.

As part of measures to check abuse and racketeering of vaccination certification, he said the government had set up a special taskforce to monitor the various vaccination centres and deal severely with any medical staff found engaging in unwholesome practices.

Ehanire, speaking on the N10 billion meant for vaccine production in the budget, explained, “The plan is for Nigeria to be manufacturing vaccines and the government is a 49 per cent stakeholder in a company called Bio-vaccine Nigeria Limited to produce routine vaccines and we are trying to support that company also in adding any other type of vaccine that appears necessary in the future.”

Ehanire said the need to revive the country’s vaccine manufacturing capability became paramount following the decision of the countries that developed the COVID-19 vaccines to first take care of themselves, leaving others to wait for so long to be supplied vaccine doses.

He stated, “So the lesson from that is that we must wake up, knowing that it is our responsibility to take care of our citizens’ healthcare and to produce vaccines, if necessary, either through contract manufacturing or technology transfers.

“So that is why in the Bio-Vaccine Nigeria Limited, the federal government is looking at repurposing the N10 billion fund towards supporting vaccine production, not as a gift but definitely as what you might see as grant. This is still a proposal, it is not yet approved or finalised.”

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Covid-19

FG: COVID-19 Vaccination Now Mandatory for Civil Servants from Dec 1

Federal government workers across the country will from December 1 be required to present proof of COVID-19 vaccination before reporting at work. Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman, Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19, Mr. Boss Mustapha, announced the new policy decision yesterday in Abuja at a PSC briefing.

Mustapha said the government would issue new safety protocols in the next 24 hours.

Similarly, Nigeria removed South Africa, Turkey, and Brazil from the list of countries on high-level restriction, where travellers are barred from visiting, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

On the new directive, Mustapha said public servants would have to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result done within 72 hours, to gain access to their offices, in all locations within Nigeria and the country’s foreign missions. He said an appropriate service-wide advisory/circular would be issued to guide the process.

Mustapha stated that statistics generated over the last four weeks from test results showed that the trend of infection was going down in some states while in others, the trajectory was rising. He put the combined total for testing by PCR and RDT at 3,141, 795 million persons.

He added that talks were on-going to resolve the diplomatic impasse between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over testing requirements for Nigerian travellers to the UAE.

Mustapha said the aviation authorities, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, had made reasonable progress to resolve the issue.

On the removal of South Africa, Turkey, and Brazil from the list of restricted nations, Mustapha said their exclusion was with immediate effect. The three countries were among the worst nations ravaged by the deadly COVID-19 Delta strain that claimed many lives.

He said the decision to ease the restriction was taken by the PSC following a session on Wednesday, where the committee reviewed developments in the affected countries.

India was removed from the list on September 13 by the federal government in response to the improved situation in the country.

Mustapha said, “As you are aware, the UK has eased restrictions on fully vaccinated travellers from Nigeria to the UK with effect from 11th October. Nigeria welcomes this development and assures that the PSC shall continue to review Nigeria’s protocols based on global developments, science and national experience. A revised protocol will be issued in the next 24 hours.”

The PSC chairman also put the public on notice concerning the two major religious festivities – Salah and Christmas – that were approaching, warning that there would be increased passenger traffic in and out of the country.

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Foreign News

WHO Approves World’s First Malaria Vaccine

The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday endorsed the first ever vaccine to prevent malaria, debuting a tool that could save the lives of tens of thousands of children in Africa each year.

Called Mosquirix, the new vaccine is given in three doses to children between ages five and 17 months, and a fourth dose roughly 18 months later. Following the clinical trials, the vaccine was tried out in three countries

Malaria is among the oldest known and deadliest of infectious diseases, killing about half a million people each year, nearly all of them in sub-Saharan Africa and among them 260,000 children under age five.

The new vaccine, made by GlaxoSmithKline, rouses a child’s immune system to thwart Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest of five malaria pathogens and the most prevalent in Africa.

The New York Times reported that the vaccine was not just a first for malaria, but the first developed for any parasitic disease.

However, the report stated that in clinical trials, the vaccine had an efficacy of about 50 per cent against severe malaria in the first year, but dropped close to zero by the fourth year.

In addition, it stressed that the trials did not measure the vaccine’s impact on preventing deaths, which has led some experts to question whether it is a worthwhile investment in countries with countless other intractable problems.

But severe malaria accounts for up to half of malaria deaths and is considered “a reliable proximal indicator of mortality. I do expect we will see that impact,” Dr. Mary Hamel, who leads the WHO’s malaria vaccine implementation programme, said.

A modelling study last year had estimated that if the vaccine were rolled out to countries with the highest incidence of malaria, it could prevent 5.4 million cases and 23,000 deaths in children younger than age five each year.

A recent trial of the vaccine in combination with preventive drugs given to children during high-transmission seasons found that the dual approach was much more effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalisation and death than either method alone.

To have a malaria vaccine that is safe, moderately effective and ready for distribution is “a historical event,” Director of WHO’s Global Malaria Programme, Dr. Pedro Alonso said.

Parasites are much more complex than viruses or bacteria, and the quest for a malaria vaccine has been underway for a hundred years, he added, stressing, “It’s a huge jump from the science perspective to have a first-generation vaccine against a human parasite.”

The malaria parasite is a particularly insidious enemy, because it can strike the same person over and over.

In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, even those where most people sleep under insecticide-treated bed nets, children have on average six malaria episodes a year.

Even when the disease is not fatal, the repeated assault on their bodies can leave them weak and vulnerable to other pathogens, permanently altering the immune system.

Malaria research is littered with vaccine candidates that never made it past clinical trials. Bed nets, the most widespread preventive measure, cut malaria deaths in children under age five by only about 20 per cent.

Against that backdrop, the new vaccine, even with modest efficacy, is the best new development in the fight against the disease in decades, some experts said.

“Progress against malaria has really stalled over the last five or six years, particularly in some of the hardest hit countries in the world,” said Ashley Birkett, who heads malaria programmes at PATH, a non-profit organisation focused on global health.

With the new vaccine, “there’s potential for very, very significant impact there,” Birkett added.

Following the clinical trials, the vaccine was tried out in three countries — Kenya, Malawi and Ghana — where it was incorporated into routine immunisation programmes.

More than 2.3 million doses have been administered in those countries, reaching more than 800,000 children. That bumped up the percentage of children protected against malaria in some way to more than 90 per cent from less than 70 per cent, Hamel said.

“The ability to reduce inequities in access to malaria prevention — that’s important. It was impressive to see that this could reach children who are currently not being protected,” Hamel added.

It took years to create an efficient system to distribute insecticide-treated bed nets to families. By contrast, making Mosquirix a part of routine immunisation made it surprisingly easy to distribute, he Hamel added — even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which prompted lockdowns and disrupted supply chains.

“We aren’t going to have to spend a decade trying to figure out how to get this to children,” he said.

This week, a working group of independent experts in malaria, child health epidemiology and statistics, as well as the WHO’s vaccine advisory group, met to review data from the pilot programmes and make their formal recommendation to Director-General of the WHO, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus.

According to the NYT, the next step is for Gavi, the global vaccine alliance, to determine that the vaccine is a worthwhile investment.

If the organisation’s board approves the vaccine — not guaranteed, given the vaccine’s moderate efficacy and the many competing priorities — Gavi will purchase the vaccine for countries that request it, a process that is expected to take at least a year.

But as with COVID-19, problems with vaccine production and supply could considerably delay progress and the pandemic has also diverted resources and attention from other diseases, said Deepali Patel, who leads malaria vaccine programmes at Gavi.

“COVID-19 is a big unknown in the room in terms of where capacity is currently in countries, and rolling out COVID-19 vaccines is a huge effort. We’re really going to have to see how the pandemic unfolds next year in terms of when countries will be ready to pick up all of these other priorities,” Patel said.

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Health

Fayemi Approves N80m to Begin Health Agency, Enacts New Drug Law

The Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has assented to the Drugs and Health Commodities Management Agency bill in his bid to ensure that residents in the state would enjoy universal health coverage in terms of administration and availability of drugs in all government facilities.

Fayemi said the law was introduced to provide a legal basis for the establishment of The Ekiti State Drugs and Health Commodities Management Agency (ESDHCMA).

He expressed these views yesterday in Ado Ekiti when he signed the bill into law as part of activities marking his third year in office, adding that the sum of N80 million has been approved as the seed funding for the agency.

The governor submitted that the bill would lay a solid legal background for the manufacturing, procurement, distribution, sales and management of drugs and medical commodities in Ekiti State.

“Drugs and medical supplies are essential parts of our health system. Ensuring that health facilities in the state have essential drugs and medical supplies that can be readily available when needed is key to delivering the universal health coverage for the people of Ekiti State.

“A successful drug and medical supply system can only be possible when there is a strong regulatory system backed by law that enables the ability for quality manufacturing and the management of an efficient supply chain.

“The Drugs and Health Commodities Management Agency Act will address the menace of low-quality drugs in circulation and drug stockouts in the State, ensuring that high-quality drugs are constantly available in the State at very affordable prices,” he said.

The governor stated that the law would be critical transforming Ekiti into a regional hub for quality healthcare delivery by enabling Ekiti to have the legitimacy to engage big pharmaceuticals on contract to get the best quality of drugs at the best prices.

He said: “This will also strengthen our public-private partnerships by allowing us to attract a diverse set of private sector partners who can catalyse the consumer market in our State, further improving the health-seeking behaviour of our people.

“Drug and health commodities revolving fund while facilitating our manufacturing capacity for local production of drugs and other health commodities. As I assent to this Bill, it is expected that all relevant stakeholders will move swiftly to action to ensure that the Drugs and Health Commodities Management Agency is established in the closest possible time and operations begin in earnest.”

The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Oyebanji Filani, noted that the establishment the state central medical store had been lacking adequate funding and systems to ensure efficient drug supply chains and zero stock-out before the passage of the law.

Filani said: “Before now, there was no service level agreement with manufacturers and drug suppliers. There was limited enforcement of the available drug management policy. There was no streamlined framework for the purchase of drugs within the State, by health facilities and other service providers.

“The quality, safety, efficacy and equitable accessibility to drugs and health commodities are hinged on strong regulatory systems, quality manufacturing and efficient supply chains.”

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Health

Resident Doctors Suspend Nationwide Strike Two Months After

Members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), have resolved to suspend their two months old industrial action.

At their emergency National Executive Council meeting, held in Abuja on Sunday, NARD resolved to go back to work beginning from 8am this Wednesday.

Earlier, during the meeting, the doctors had a very long debate over how to proceed with the dispute with the government, resulting in a vote.

When the issue of sustaining the strike was put vote, 56 of the NEC members voted in favour of suspending the strike while 28 supported the continuation. Five other members were absent.
The doctors’ strike had almost crippled the country’s health sector.

A reliable source at the meeting told THISDAY last night that the leadership of NARD has been mandated to address the media today (Monday) on the decision to suspend the strike and to give the modalities and new timelines for further engagement with the federal government team.

“NARD decided after detailed assessment of its engagement with the federal government, to suspend the strike embarked upon on August 2, 2021. Majority of the NEC members voted in support of the suspension of the industrial action and to give the government another chance to redeem its promises with regards to the implementation of Memoradum of Understanding with the doctors,” he said.

The Resident doctors had gone strike to demand the implementation of the Memoradum of Agreement they reached with federal government and to protest the alleged non-payment of arrears of salaries and allowances to some of their members.

The doctors also sought the immediate release of their residency training fund and for the placement of their members in the appropriate salary structure.
After series of negotiations failed to resolve the dispute, the federal government took the matter to the National Industrial Court for resolution.

However, NARD had come under pressure from several quarters to suspend the prolonged strike action, which has had a biting effect on Nigerians.
Among those who mounted pressure on the Resident doctors to suspend their action was the parent body, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).

NMA, when it led the new national executive of NARD on a courtesy visit to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, had said the continuation of the strike was no longer necessary.

“We cannot pretend that all is well. We had to look at some of the things that have unraveled since 2nd August. As you know, I’m a man of peace and my leadership is for peace. And we really want to resolve this once and for all, so we can move on. Nigerians are suffering and we can’t allow it to continue,” he said.

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Health

FG begins payment of resident doctors’ training fund

Executive members of the striking Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors are currently divided over their ongoing industrial action.

This is as a source at the Federal Ministry of Finance disclosed to our correspondent that the Federal Government began the payment of the Medical Residency Training Fund on Friday.

Payment of the Medical Residency Training Fund was one of the demands of the striking doctors from the Federal Government, as a condition to call of their month-long strike.

The PUNCH had reported that NARD at the end of its Annual General Meeting, which it held at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University in Bauchi, gave the Federal Government fresh ultimatums.

Among other things, the resident doctors demanded “payment of the Medical Residency Training within 72 hours since the money meant for it is available and verification of the list for payment has been completed.”

They also demanded “payment of the arrears of salaries of our members on GIFMIS platform within 72 hours while the migration process continues.”

However, 72 hours after the ultimatum was issued, the Federal Government failed to meet the demands, while the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said the government was unaware of the ultimatum.

Meanwhile, there are indications of cracks within the ranks of the striking doctors.

It was learn that new executives of NARD, alongside the Nigerian Medical Association, held a meeting with Ngige, which partly centered on indictment of former NARD executives.

Sources, who spoke with our correspondent, said the development did not seat well with NARD members loyal to the former executives.

Our correspondent learnt that since the commencement of the payment of the MRTF on Friday, government had been mounting pressure on the new NARD President to call off the protracted strike.

A top NARD executive, who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, said, “They (government) are already pleading that the strike should be called off because other demands are being attended to.

“This is causing a rift among the executives because you know the president is soft-spoken and it seems as if he wants to call off the strike, even though he can’t do it on his own without the consent of the NEC.”

When contacted, the New President of NARD, Dr Dare Ishaya, confirmed to our correspondent that the government had indeed begun the payment of the MRTF.

He said, “Yes, they have started paying the Medical Residency Training Fund. They have paid 20 centres. They are paying in batches. Some people from those centres have started to receive alerts.’’

“We have about 54 centres that are supposed to benefit. The remaining 34 have not seen anything yet.

“Just like we discussed with the Minister of Labour, our discussion and agreement are that when we start getting alerts, we will call a meeting with a view to suspending the strike.

“We will keep our own side of the bargain but it is still the decision of the NEC. This was part of the minimum requirements that the NEC laid down.”

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Covid-19

Ekiti dispels rumour of spoilt COVID-19 vaccines

The Ekiti State Government has described as untrue the rumour making the rounds that the COVID-19 vaccines available in the state were spoilt.

The rumour was not unconnected to the power outage experienced in the state recently.

A statement by the Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr Oyebanji Filani, on Thursday, in Ado-Ekiti, said the rumour had no iota of truth in it and was meant to misinform the general public, urging the people of the state to disregard it.

He explained that the available COVID-19 vaccines were delivered to the state in good condition and same were stored in the state cold store in line with storage requirements for vaccines, noting that the vaccines remained safe and effective to contain the spread.

The statement, entitled:

“UNFOUNDED RUMOUR ABOUT COVID-19 VACCINES IN EKITI STATE”, reads :

“Our attention has been drawn to an unfounded rumour claiming that “COVID-19 vaccines in Ekiti State are spoilt as a result of lack of electricity supply.”

“The Ekiti State Ministry of Health would like to state clearly that this statement is not only false and unfounded, but also meant to misinform the general public.

“The available COVID-19 vaccines were delivered to the State in good condition. The vaccines are being stored in the State Cold Store in line with the appropriate guidance and requirements on vaccine handling and storage. The Moderna vaccine is currently stored at a temperature of -43.2-degree Celsius.

“The State Cold Store is equipped with 24/7 power supply to maintain the potency of the vaccines. The State has also trained, motivated and deployed 92 vaccination teams comprising 582 persons, to ensure accurate movement and administration of vaccines.

“During vaccination campaigns, vaccines are moved from the State Cold Store in Cold Chain Boxes to maintain the optimum temperature. We have continued to ensure that these vaccines are transported within the recommended temperature range.

“As at 12pm, Thursday the 16th of September, 2021, Ekiti State has exhausted her first dose of the Moderna vaccines with 47,839 persons vaccinated. This is in addition to over 70,000 persons who have received first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“As a matter of fact, the State vaccination wastage rate is currently the lowest in the country.

“Reliable information on the COVID-19 response in Ekiti State, including vaccination, can be obtained from the Ministry of Health and Human Services through the Office of the Honourable Commissioner for Health.

“We encourage everyone to refrain from spreading unfounded rumours that could create panic and mistrust in the health system.

“The available COVID-19 vaccines in Ekiti State are proven to be safe and effective in preventing severe illness from COVID-19 and we encourage everyone to get vaccinated.

“The health and safety of the good people of Ekiti remains a top priority for the Dr Kayode Fayemi administration.”

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Covid-19

Against court order, Edo to begin enforcement of mandatory vaccination Wednesday —Official

The Edo State government on Tuesday said it would commence the enforcement of its no vaccination card, no entry into all state government owned facilities, as from Wednesday (today).

The government said the measure was aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the state.

This is coming in spite of the order of a federal high court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, which barred the state from the implementation of the policy.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Osamwonyi Irowa, who disclosed this at the daily press briefing on the virus, however, said that anybody who wanted access into any state government offices, must have his or her card to show the enforcers.

“If you have to enter the state secretariat you must have your vaccination card, we are going to implement this in all the key areas to ensure that we don’t have persons being infected because the other person is being difficult,” he said.

“Those that cannot provide their COVID-19 vaccination card may have to excuse us and be working from home pending when a decision will be reached. As a state, we are doing everything possible to make sure people don’t get infected.

Details later…


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Health

UNICEF, Monarchs, Others Declare War on Female Genital Mutilation in Ekiti

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with the Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers and other critical stakeholders have urged Governor Kayode Fayemi to ensure diligent prosecution and conviction of female genital mutilators in the state.

The stakeholders, which also included the market women, religious leaders, students and top government functionaries, agreed that the practice had damaged the reproductive health of many Nigerians and destroyed their marriages.
The stakeholders made the call in Ado Ekiti at the weekend during a one-day workshop organised by UNICEF in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Information on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

A South-west UNICEF FGM Consultant, Mrs Oluronke Adetayo, who rued the practice, urged Fayemi to do everything possible to stop violence against girl child using the instrumentalities of governance and law.
Adetayo added that Ekiti has the highest prevalent rate in the South-west, having overtaken Osun that was leading in 2013, with Imo State rated highest in Nigeria.

“No force can come from Abuja and stop FGM in Ekiti, except the locals themselves led by our traditional rulers, religious leaders, market men and women, women groups and students to stop this harmful practice. We must apply the laws and deal with those engaging in the practice.

“In 2013, Ekiti has 72 per cent prevalent rate, but in 2019, it has reduced to 57.9 per cent, which was not enough. We still have to work harder”.

The Executive Secretary, Ekiti State Bureau of Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Adegboyega Morakinyo, revealed that the state had enacted anti-FGM law since 2011, which was amended in 2019, saying the statute stipulates a fine of N200,000 or one year imprisonment for offenders.

“The law is in place and we have gazetted it and we will make it available to all organisations. It prohibits both the parents and cutters from engaging in the act and whoever flouts it would have himself to blame,” he warned.

Speaking against the backdrop of the high FGM in Ekiti, the Onisan of Isan Ekiti and Chairman, Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers, Oba Gabriel Adejuwon, said the established myth that any girl who doesn’t do it would be promiscuous, had no scientific proof, saying it was meant to create fear in people’s minds.

“This is a very deadly and harmful practice. Some of the materials used for cutting by these practitioners were locally made and not sterilised. Some were infected with diseases, some bled to death; some became barren from there; so, it is harmful and we have to stop it”.

Oba Adejumo urged the government to reinforce action for prosecution of offenders, the way they have been tightening noise against those engaging in sexual abuse, particularly rape.

The monarch appealed to stakeholders to sensitise the people at the local level about the evils inherent in the harmful practice, saying some were still indulging in the pernicious act due to ignorance.

“After that sensitisation, we will go into enforcement and that is where the traditional rulers, government and market men and women will be useful. We must stop this practice at all cost. There is no gain in it.”

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