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Opinion: Ese Oruru: A Post-Script

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Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed

“If you want to know the end, look at the beginning.”–African proverb

A little over four years ago, I wrote the material below in this paper.

It was intended to speak against a national hysteria being fired by our poisonous national patents of ethnic and religious stereotypes and prejudices.

I have since followed this matter even when it threatened to disappear under our penchant for finding new causes to fight over.

Last week, there was a major development around the story.

First, though, please read my comments on the matter.

“Any responsible parent of a girl of fourteen that disappears and is then reported to be with an unknown person hundreds of miles away from home will be beside themselves with worry.

“If they also hear that she has changed her religion and is planning to marry the person responsible for her disappearance, their concerns will deepen.

“They will do everything to trace the girl and utilise every available source of redress and relief to retrieve her and get justice.

“If they meet their daughter, and then encounter difficulties in retrieving her from any quarter, they will raise their voices to the high heavens in protest.

“Everyone who hears the side of the parent’s story will line up in their support.

This is what all Nigerians have done in support of the demand of the parents, relations and the community of 14 year old Ese Oruru for her return to her home in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State from a village in Kano State where she has been for the last few months.

This universal support behind the return of Ese to her home is the only peg on which you could hang some sort of consensus.

Ese’s reported ill-advised elopement with a young man from Kano is presented as abduction, forceful detention, and conversion to Islam in many versions.

Sloppy handling and laxities in the operations of institutions with responsibilities to protect the weak and vulnerable are interpreted in other quarters as high level collusion to violate the fundamental and other rights of a Nigerian minor.

A saga that has been active for months, with many stops and gaps substantially outside public glare suddenly assumed the status of a national scandal with all the trappings and muck of our politics.

A child everyone should look at with responsible sympathy suddenly became the source of the rediscovery of all that is wrong with our politics and other values as a nation.

Ese was, a few months ago, one among millions of Nigerian children from whom you will buy pure water or snacks without a second look.

Today, she is at the center of an almighty row about faith, cultures and damaging politics.

Long after this dust is settled, this child will deal with the effects of our quarrels over her.

Whether she is a victim of childish impetuousness or adult abuse and cynical manipulation is not likely to matter.

Collectively, we would have further injured a child that ought to have been in school learning to be a responsible adult, with the support of her parents and community.

There are quite possibly many angles to this sad story that would have been permanently drowned by indignation and outrage from just about everyone who has scores to settle, or a cause to advance.

A range of persons and interests from the Emir of Kano to all Muslims and many northerners are likely to feel hard done because their status and faith are being portrayed in very bad light.

They will attempt to distance their faith from abduction, forceful conversion or marriage without consent of parents, to no avail.

Palace officials, police and community leaders will roll out all manner of evidence that they played their parts.

No one will care, after the devastating conclusions of social media warriors has reached many ears, galvanising opinions in support of a child who desperately needs to be freed from abduction and forced conversion and impending marriage.

Ese’s sojourn has attracted to the poor child an entire army of sympathisers, many of whom she does not need, and they do not deserve mention.

Minister of women affairs says Ese is a wake up call to improve the protection of women and child rights.

Hashtags in support of Ese’s return have been gaining support in social media.

Traditional and stereotype insults against people, regions and religions are being unearthed, with reminders of child marriages by prominent northerners, the Chibok girls, sponsored pregnancies, commercial baby factories and entire communities living off remittances from prostituting daughters in Europe filling all social media spaces.

In this bedlam, which says more about how we treat each other as adults than how we relate to our young, there are a few islands of sanity.

The governor of Bayelsa State went out of his way to engage governor of Kano State and the Emir of Kano, and publicly commended both for the roles they played in reuniting Ese with her parents.

The Kano Emirate Council released a measured statement distancing the Emir and the Emirate Council from accusations that they colluded in keeping Ese in Kano State, away from her parents.

On the other hand, the legion of shrill joiners piling on sensation and crude opportunism reminds us all that we are stuck in some deep gutters as far as inter-community relations go.

The Nation newspaper screamed an editorial that should lose it a substantial amount of respect.

It said: “The story which was, at press time still developing, has all the evil trappings of molestations, child abuse, sexual deviance, abduction, religious coercion, constitutional violation, a network of shadowy big men manipulating the law…”

This comment will force all people with a hint of civilised humanity to grit their teeth and read the trademark drivel rolled out routinely by Femi Fani-Kayode because it appears that he shares the same space with this newspaper on this matter.

Forgive me for giving this man who clearly needs help a few minutes of your time, but this is part of Fani-Kayode’s contribution on this matter: “The truth is that this is not a love story about two inseparable young people: it is rather a sad and tragic tale about pedophilia, child abduction, kidnapping, human trafficking, slavery, rape, impunity, wickedness, religious bigotry and ritual sex.

“Worse still, it is an unfolding drama at the end of which Emir Sanusi Lamido (sic) may well have a case to answer.

“The truth is that the little girl would have been raped over and over again and she may well have Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDs), Vesico vaginal Fistula (VVF) or some other strange sexual disease by now”.

There must be people who enjoy this type of delusion in print, because newspapers give it space.

But Ese does not need it.

What she needs is a quiet and productive reunification with her family, and a lot of time to sort out deeply personal issues.

What we need as a nation is to move on and find other grounds for a quarrel.

Everyone involved in this sensitive issue should examine their roles, or have them examined by those who police accountability.

Where amends or restitutions need to be made, they must be made.

Ese will develop into an adult and decide what she wants to do with her life.

The best way we can help her reach that stage without further damage is to create appropriate distance between her life and our many preferences and prejudices.”

Since this piece was published, Ese was separated from Yinusa Dahiru (alias Yellow) February 2016 and taken home with a five months-old pregnancy.

She delivered a girl three months later.

Yinusa was arrested and detained in prison custody, and has been on trial until last week when he was sentenced to 26 years in prison.

He had pleaded not guilty to all charges.

A newspaper that had vigorous championed Ese’s case quoted her father as saying that an attempt was made to steal the baby at the Police Officer’s Mess in Yenagoa where mother and child were staying.

The same paper interviewed the father in 2018 during which he said all the promises for scholarship and support made by the Bayelsa and Delta State governments for Ese’s education were not fulfilled.

She is now in SS3, living away from, but being supported only by her father.

In all likelihood, Yinusa will appeal.

But the court of sectional opinion is already split right down the middle.

Champions of Ese’s case who paid for her lawyers hail his conviction as rightful vindication.

His sympathisers say he has been abandoned and betrayed by his own people who, in addition cannot raise their voices at the reported cases of Hausa children routinely stolen and taken to the East, culturally re-processed and converted.

Yinusa and Ese have played their roles as pawns, and they will continue to remind us that in most of our fights, there are no winners.

This, however, does not stop us fighting in filth.

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Kwankwaso left over N50bn liability for LGs 5km projects – Kano Govt

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Rabiu Kwankwaso

Nasiru Yusuf

Kano state government said the administration of former Governor Rabi’u Kwankwaso left a liability of N54, 408, 259, 638.05 billion for the five kilometre road projects across the 44 local government areas of the state.

Kano Focus reports that the state commissioner for Information, Muhammad Garba dropped the hint on Sunday while addressing newsmen on the outcome of the state Executive Council Meeting held at the Africa House, Government House, Kano.

He said the council received the report of the Technical Committee to assess the 5 km road projects all of which were awarded by the previous administration under the defunct Ministry of Land and Physical Planning with the state Urban Planning and Development Authority (KNUPDA) as supervising agency.

Mr Garba said the committee visited 39 local governments where its detailed report indicated awarded contract sum for the projects, present site conditions, value of executed works, amount certified and amount released for the projects.

The commissioner pointed out that 5km projects in three local governments were revoked and rewarded due to non-performance in Warawa, Ungogo and Dawakin Tofa, while some portions of the projects in Tsanyawa and Bichi along Kano-Katsina road were released to the federal ministry of works and housing based on request from the federal government.

He said other three projects in Rimin Gado, Karaye and Bunkure local government that fall within main arterial highway were expunged from the main project and re-awarded separately for execution, while metropolitan local governments of Dala, Nassarawa, Gwale, Municipal and Tarauni were allotted various projects within the municipality as 5km projects.

Mr Garba pointed out that the council has approved the release of N607, 124, 663.47 million for the rehabilitation of Rimin Gado-Sabon Fegi-Jilli-Gulu road in Rimin Gado local government.

The commissioner stated that approval has also been given by the council for the conversion of the existing School of Post Basic Midwifery Gezawa to the status of School of Nursing Gezawa to broaden the platform for training of more qualified midwives in order to reduce maternal and infant morbidity and mortality in the state.

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Kano domesticate social protection policy

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Abdullahi Ganduje

Nasiru Yusuf

Kano state governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has approved the domestication of National social protection policy in the state.

Kano Focus reports that the Social Protection Policy is designed to show the commitment of the Government to the effective mobilisation and efficient utilisation of state resources to improve the quality of life of its citizens.

The state Commissioner of planning and budget Nura Muhammad Dankadai revealed this on Friday at a one day interactive session with with journalists and civil society organizations.

Alhaji Nura Muhammad Dankadai

Mr Dankadai said governor Ganduje approved the domestication of the policy on Thursday.

According to him when domesticated the policy will provide legal framework for school feeding programme, ante natal and post natal care, addressing gender based violence and protecting people living with disabilities.

On the meeting with journalists, Mr Dankadai said it was aimed at intimating them with on the state government’s projects and received some inputs for possible submission to the government.

The commissioner uses the opportunity to appeal to civil society organizations and journalists to sensitise people on the current economic challenges which made it difficult for the state to pay workers salary for the month of March.

In their separate contributions Akibu Hamisu, I. G Maryam and Wali Ado Rano advised Kano state government on the need to address multiple taxation, grant local government financial autonomy and holding periodic interactive session with CSOs and journalists.

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AKTH honours NCC Boss UG Danbatta

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Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, being presented with an appreciation award by Prof. Abdulrahman Sheshe, Chief Medical Director, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH), Kano, during the courtesy visit.

Nasiru Yusuf

 

The management of Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital has visited the Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communication Commission Umar Garba Danbatta.

Kano Focus reports that during the visit the AKTH team also presented an award to Danbatta as an expression of the hospital’s appreciation for the enormous contributions of the EVC and the Commission to the development of health institutions over the years in the country.

Speaking during the visit, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of AKTH, Abdulrahman Sheshe, who led the delegation on the courtesy call, said, “the objective of our being here today is to appreciate your contribution in person and as EVC of NCC to the growth and development of the teaching hospital.”

According to Sheshe, through the support and donations from Kano people like the EVC and institutions like NCC, the hospital has increased its bed capacity from 250 to 700, as well as performing 57 successful transplant surgeries.

“You have also made enormous contributions in this regard and that has helped us to get new dialysis machines through your assistance and these machines are being put to use, aside from other state-of-the-art equipment already in place,” he said while appreciating the EVC.

The CMD, however, sought NCC’s support in the area of a Health Information Management System (HIMS) and digital capacity for staff.

Responding, however, Danbatta thanked the hospital management for the visit and the award, noting that the Commission supports federal institutions with necessary ICT equipment across the country and is ready to assist AKTH in this regard.

Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta

“As a Commission, we are working to bridge the infrastructure divide, which is an element of the entire digital ecosystem. We do this via a lot of ongoing regulatory initiatives. And, through our training arm, Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), we provide digital literacy to critical sectors of the economy, including the health sector, we also intervene through our Advanced Digital Appreciation Programme,” he said.

According to Danbatta, digital divide can be bridged by making computers available and ICT services accessible to people and key sectors of the economy.

Danbatta (middle) flanked by top management committee of AKTH and NCC staff during the courtesy visit

“Infrastructure that can host this massive flow of information and knowledge is broadband infrastructure and this is top-most in the agenda of the Commission. Indeed, ICT is transforming every sector of the economy and the earlier we embrace the vast opportunity brought by ICT the better,” the EVC pointed out.

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