The Benue Notes: 14 Year Old Kenger Igba is Dead – Another Reason to Help Build the Nongov Community a Primary Health Centre

Gbenga Awomodu & the late Kenger Igba

On Monday 28th May 2012, at least two hundred of over three hundred students of Kings Technology Academy, Gbeji Village, Nongov Community, Buruku L.G.A. were on ground to receive exercise books (courtesy Millions4One.org) and other stationery. Most of those absent were either at home to observe the public holiday or had trekked several kilometers to a meeting point in order to meet up with the children from other neighbouring communities. The children were excited about the intervention and they would have more reasons to go to school, resume early and stayed longer in class as they could now write down lessons in class.

Kenger Igba was not in school. Sadly, the little girl who was barely fourteen had finally succumbed to her struggle with oedema. Her parents could not afford to get her proper medical attention and even though Mrs. Msuega, a retired health worker who lives in the community, had used her own funds to get some drugs for Kenger several kilometers away. Many children and adults die weekly for several reasons – deaths that could be avoided if there were properly equipped health facilities with adequate, well-trained medical personnel.

The Nongov Community
Nongov is an interior community in Buruku L.G.A, which is located at least 150km from Makurdi, the state capital. Located at least 6 kilometres from the main road and under the Mbaade Local Council Ward, the Nongov kindred comprise approximately 10,000 adults and children. The nearest primary health centre is in Tofi, nine (9) kilometres away from Nongov, whilst the nearest health post at Mbatera, which is now dilapidated, was built in 1991 and is over three kilometres away from the village. Grossly understaffed (it has not more than three experienced staff on duty), bereft of required drugs and other medication, and located across a river, the old health centre is not easily accessible by the villagers. It is also worthy of note that there is no electrification in the community, hence the need for the proposed health centre to be powered by a power-generating set, pending when the community becomes electrified.

Late Kenger Igba (R) with Mrs Msuega (A Retired Health Worker)

The Intervention & Progress So Far
After consultations with the community leaders and key opinion leaders, it was clear that the establishment of primary health centre was a cogent need. On receiving approval from the NYSC in April 2012, I set to work creating an online blog on the internet where I started writing about the Nongov community whilst giving details on the Primary Health Centre Project. I also wrote a number of articles to create awareness and advocate for support on behalf of the community. The community leadership allocated a space for the project and the land was soon cleared for construction. I obtained three standard designs from the National Primary Health Community Development Agency (NPHCDA), Abuja, one of which was adopted to design a building plan for the Primary health Centre. Progress is being made in mobilization and talks with key project partners, including the Benue State Ministry of Health, Benue State Ministry of Commerce & Industries and the International Planned Parenthood Foundation, Nigeria. At the moment, the online advocacy is beginning to yield more results as more Nigerians and organisations are showing interest in supporting the project. The foundation for the structure (18 metres x 12 metres) has been completed and work is scheduled to resume in mid-June towards the completion of the health centre building, as well equipping it.

Continue reading here: The Benue Notes: 14 Year Old Kenger Igba is Dead – Another Reason to Help Build the Nongov Community a Primary Health Centre

The Benue Notes: Introducing the Nongov Community Primary Health Centre Project – You Can Change the World, One Community at a Time!

Here is a post I first wrote in May and thought to share on this blog, in case you missed it. Enjoy and share within your networks!

In January 2012, history was made in the remote Nongov [pronounced ‘Non-goo] community, located in Buruku Local Government Area of Benue State, Nigeria when over two hundred members of the Nigeria Christian Corpers’ Fellowship (NCCF), Benue State Chapter, paid a two-day visit on what they fondly call “Rural Rugged” evangelism outreach. Beyond sharing their faith and praying with the people, they provided social services to the villagers by bathing the children, giving the men and boys clean haircut, plaiting beautiful hairstyles for the women and girls, distributing relief materials, and providing medical services, amongst others. Most of these services, as basic and necessary as they should be, are actually luxury to the people of Nongov.

It all started when in November 2011, Oyediran Igbagbosanmi Israel, the State Evangelism Secretary then, visited the village on a survey for the next rural evangelism outreach. According to the community head’s son, Dev Israel, Igbagbosanmi was the first Corps member to step onto the land. January 13-15, 2012 was the chosen as time out for the fulfillment of the core vision of the NCCF and the impact was tremendous as the villagers came out en masse to meet with the August visitors – the Christian Corps members. When it was time for the visitors to leave, the people of the community continued to implore the Corps members to pay follow-up visits to the community, and help plead their case for development wherever they could.

Mr. Oyediran Igbagbosanmi Israel, Batch A 2011/2012 Benue State Corps Member

The Nongov Community The Nongov community is a collection of several scattered hamlets and villages with a population of over 10,000 adults and children, over eighty percent of whom live in rounded huts, popularly called “Channel O”, after their rounded shape. Majority of the indigenes are farmers and there is no form of electrification, even though electric cables pass through the community to supply power to other communities. The local primary school, built in the early sixties (according to one of the community Chiefs) had been abandoned for lack of facilities and staff, and most children attended classes, clustered in a group of 150 students per open hut, under the sun and in the rain. 37-year old Martin Agen, a native and missionary, is the sole teacher of over 450 children and he has done this since 2009, hardly charging school fee. He complains that he has had to send some children home because their parents could not provide (money for) writing materials for their wards, especially a pen which costs less than thirty naira (0.3 USD). There is no secondary school in the community and the knowledge gap between the average Primary 1 student and another in Primary 6 is mostly infinitesimal.

Continue reading here: The Benue Notes: Introducing the Nongov Community Primary Health Centre Project – You Can Change the World, One Community at a Time!

Meet Idris Ayodeji Bello – Afropreneur, Wennovator and Global Health Advocate

In recent times, several Western media have repeatedly focused on Africa, analyzing the prospects of the ‘dark continent’ whilst raising caution about the ability of the next generation to manage resources effectively and carry out the required changes. In this exhaustive interview with BN’s Gbenga Awomodu, an exceptional young African from Nigeria speaks on a range of issues bothering on social entrepreneurship, development, sustainable health care, and Africa. Idris Ayodeji Bello, a 2012 Weidenfeld Scholar in Global Health Science, trained as a Computer Engineer at the Obafemi Awolowo University, and has had varied global experiences with leading multinationals, including Procter & Gamble and the Chevron Corporation, with social and business networks spanning five continents. He was profiled in 2011 as Huffington Post’s ‘Greatest Person of the Day’ and listed among CNN’s Top Ten African Technology Voices to follow on Twitter in 2012. Dedicated to the enhancement of lives by developing and deploying attractive platforms for innovation-driven, technology-enabled investments across the African continent, he shares from his wealth of experience and sheds more light on the just concluded 2012 Oxford University Pan-Africa Conference. Get ready and enjoy this encounter!

Could you tell us about yourself – growing up and schooling?
I was born in Jericho, Ibadan, about thirty-two years ago, but my childhood was mostly spent in Ilaro, Ogun State. We lived and schooled on the campus of the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, and life was very simple. There were very few distractions and the rule with our disciplinarian librarian father was “Never get caught without a book!” I read Chinua Achebe’s “The trouble with Nigeria” before I was ten, and Kole Omotosho’s “Just Before Dawn” about the same time. Growing up was fun. My parents were not rich, but we also were not poor. In addition to my four other siblings, we had several cousins living with us who had come to pursue polytechnic education. At no point did the dinner table have less that thirteen people during my childhood days. In May 2002, I graduated with a First Class in Computer Engineering from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. I had learnt to juggle several things and still keep up a stellar academic record. This was helpful as I went straight into employment.

What was your experience like working with two reputable multinationals?
Even before finishing at OAU, I was recruited by Procter and Gamble to become the Planning Manager of the Ibadan Plant with responsibilities for production planning, materials management, and warehouse inventory across the West African region. Coming straight out of school armed with just a degree and a little internship experience I had undergone in my fourth year, P&G was like being thrown into deep waters, but with the knowledge that just as you were about to drown, someone would probably step in to rescue you. I remember asking Adeolu Akinyemi, the Recruiting Manager then, what it meant to work at P&G. He said, “You will learn a new definition of Challenge!” There were long days and nights (including weekends) spent at the plant, long hours spent on the phone negotiating for raw materials from foreign suppliers, and explaining to Nigerian port officials why our clearing agents were not allowed to give ‘tips’ to get our raw materials released from the port. My time at P&G was like a mini-MBA without a curriculum, and it really built my foundation in entrepreneurship following my technical education at Ife.

In what ways have your previous employments/jobs contributed to the progress of your recent social entrepreneurship projects?
I have been very blessed in terms of the kind of jobs I have had, and how they have moved me closer to my goals. When I choose to accept a position, money has never been at the top of my criteria. The bigger question for me has always been: “what value is this employment going to add to me as an individual?” “What experience is this job going to offer me that would help to move me nearer my goal?” In much the same way as the potential employer spends time interviewing me, I spend more time researching them, and interviewing them too. With a first class degree in computer engineering, I could have gotten a job in any Telco, or oil company in Nigeria then, but what was more important to me then was gaining a global exposure through my job, learning skills which were very different from what I had learned in school, and being giving responsibility from Day 1. When I left P&G to go abroad for my Masters, several of my friends questioned my move. I had gotten very comfortable at P&G and was doing well. And here was I abandoning such a position to seek out an uncertain future. However, I never saw it in that light. I had achieved my objectives, and it was time to take on the next challenge. When it came to time to choose a research area during my Masters, I opted for Data Analysis in Particle Physics. I knew nothing about particle physics, but that was exactly the point. I ended up writing my thesis on different non-parametric density approximation techniques applied to signal detection in particle physics. It really stretched me, but laid the foundation for my next job after graduation. At Chevron, I got the opportunity to do several things ranging from upstream technology to digital fields monitoring, from strategy and planning to information management. I also had the opportunity to travel widely overseeing projects across the US, Latin America, Angola, and Asia. Those experiences I believe further helped refine my thinking and decision-making process, and my management and people skills. It also exposed me to what it meant to do business at a global level. Hence, after six years, when I felt it was time to move on from Chevron and pursue a degree in Global Health at the University of Oxford, it was also a conscious choice. I felt I had proven myself and gained very valuable skills, and it was time to move on from individual success to making significant impact.

What inspired you to enroll in a Masters programme in Global Health Science?
I had always had issues with the healthcare system in Nigeria, especially after losing two of my siblings to the system’s inefficiencies, and another close friend to a strike action at UCH a few years back. However, it was at Rice University, during my MBA that I strayed into the field of global health. I got acquainted with Professor Marc Epstein, an expert in microfinance and the use of commerce models to improve health and promote development in poor regions. He had partnered with Rice 360° Institute for Global Health Technologies to teach “Commercializing Technologies in Developing Countries” in which teams of MBA and undergraduate engineering students develop business plans for global health technologies, and then travel to Rwanda where they undertake field research for their business plans. This interaction exposed me to the problems of access, the lack of relevant statistics, and several other challenges faced in the area of global health. However, my greatest motivation for applying for a place in the Global Health program at Oxford stemmed from belief that solving the daunting challenges faced in the field of global health requires a multidisciplinary array of people who are able to bring to bear their diverse backgrounds and innovative approaches.

You like to refer to yourself as an Afropreneur, a Bandstormer and a Wennovator. (How) did you originally coin those?
I woke up one morning and thought it sounded cool to join entrepreneurship and Africa to form “Afropreneurship” (afrocentric entrepreneurship). Bandstorming is the collective pooling of philosophically linked ideas focused on solving social and economic problems. It was actually coined by Michael Oluwagbemi, another enterprise-focused Nigerian that I met in Houston, and the Founder of LoftyInc Allied Partners Ltd, an organization dedicated to the enhancement of African lives by developing and deploying attractive platforms for innovation-driven investments in education, technology, and healthcare in the ECOWAS sub-region. We were jointly teaching a class on “Emerging Markets’ at the Frontier Markets Scout Program of the Monterrey Institute of International Studies in California early last year when a problem came up, and we decided to brainstorm. As we went through the brainstorming process, each person continually built upon the other person’s ideas, and Michael exclaimed, “This is not brainstorming, this is bandstorming!” I coined the term “Wennovation” when I visited Nigeria a while back to attend the Nigerian Leadership Initiative’s Future Leaders Class, and to pursue my vision of business incubation, which I had successfully been involved with in the US, and explore how I could translate that to Nigeria. It is based on the belief that when like minds develop new ideas or solutions through purely collaborative work, such a result is not just innovation—which recognizes the primacy of the individual—but rather wennovation, replacing “i” with “we” to emphasize the collaborative feature of afrocentric entrepreneurship. Our value proposition to the entrepreneurs is that you cannot go it alone. You need to team up to refine your idea and attract funding. I also intended the ‘We-‘in ‘Wennovation to refer to West Africa, our focus region. Today, we promote wennovation through the Wennovation Hub, a business incubation program and facility in Lagos, Nigeria, but soon to be replicated across West Africa through an alliance with the Africa Leadership Forum and the African Innovation Prize.

Continue reading here: Man on a Mission: Idris Ayodeji Bello – Afropreneur, Wennovator and Global Health Advocate – talks about Social Entrepreneurship, Technology, Africa and Much More!

The Nongov Primary Health Centre Project – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Today, as I head to the project site, I have taken time to respond to some often asked questions. There is still a big need for funds to make sure the deadlines on the project timeline are met. I appreciate every tweet, retweet, other forms of sharing as well as actual donations.
Here are answers to the FAQs:
  • How do you plan to get nurses and community health workers to offer services consistently?

Accommodation and monthly allowance would be provided for the nurses whilst the community health workers would be given monthly stipends and/or some other incentives

  • Where do the people seek health care presently?

Most people take herbs as they cannot afford to go to the hospital. Even those who can afford basic medication are discouraged by the distance to the nearest primary health centre at Tofi, 9km from Nongov.

  • Is it culturally acceptable for women to deliver in a hospital?

Yes, it is. Women are allowed to deliver in the hospital, but either they cannot afford it, or they do not have the means of transportation.

  • Who would be responsible for providing equipment for the centre?

The Benue State Ministry of Health would be responsible for equipping centre.

  • How motivated is the government to ensure drug supply?
  • Is there electricity for simple things like vaccines?

The community is currently not electrified, but provision is being made in the budget for a power generator for regular power supply.

  • Is the 10,000 population true – is this the whole community or each of the smaller hamlets which make up the community?

It is the whole community, comprising several smaller hamlets/villages.

  • How would the potential community health workers be selected?

Announcements will be made at community and religious meetings across the various hamlets/villages calling for people with varied experiences as midwives, health technologists and health educators to apply/indicate interest to be screen for a shortlist of ten (10) most qualified candidates.

  • What will be the roles of the community health workers?

They would support the doctors and nurses in community health education and house-to-house visits and sensitization/enlightenment.

  • How would really sick people be referred and transported to a bigger facility that can handle such cases?

After the clinic has been established, a case would be made for the donation of a vehicle to the clinic.

  • Who would manage the primary health centre?

The resident medical doctor would manage the health centre, with the supervision of a hospital management board, of which he would be a key member.

  • What measures would be/are being taken to ensure that the project actually meets health needs?

A hospital management board is being constituted to ensure lasting relationship with the government, development agencies and all relevant agencies.

  • Where, how and for how long would the community health workers be trained?

The community health workers would be trained with the health centre’s equipment and subsequent advanced trainings may hold outside the community in partnership with the state ministry of health and other relevant bodies.

  • What are the long-term plans for basic, essential drugs? Will it cover immunization needs?

An affordable health insurance scheme is being considered in partnership with the government and a major pharmaceutical company which would ensure regular/constant drug supply.

  • Can training be conducted like halfway into the project as well as retraining such that all is ready and set to go at the commissioning of the facility?

Yes, it can. However, the current plan is to conduct the training after equipping the centre.

  • What other bodies can be collaborated with apart from the local government authorities, e.g. NACA; are there NGOs in the area who could be of help?

Yes. Further options are being explored in order to give the community people the best partnership and as much opportunities as possible. CONTACT DETAILS: For further enquiries concerning the project, kindly call 0803 335 4965 or0802 582 0901, or send an e-mail to gbengaawomodu@gmail.com.

DONATIONS & FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR THE PROJECT: Through this medium, I solicit financial support and otherwise from everyone who shares in the ideals of this project. Financial support/donations can be paid into the account below. Each donation will be acknowledged and documentation made available at the end of the project, for transparency and easy tracking.

Account Name: AWOMODU Olugbenga Akinsanya

Bank: Ecobank

Account Number: 0061802372

Kindly help share this post within your networks, on and off the social media. Thanks!

**For further details about the project, click to download a PDF copy of  The Nongov Community Primary Health Centre Project_ May 2012_ final_ by Gbenga Awomodu.