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 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!

I Didn’t Win the Election, so Gimme My Money!

Oops! Yes, I’m back. It feels so weird that since I moved my blog content to this new home, I have not been posting new content regularly.

Since I returned to Makurdi three Mondays ago, I have been quite busy working on a number of commissions – interviews, features and guest blog posts. Nevertheless, I do hope to begin a proper series of creative non-fiction from my National Youth Service experience so far, here on this blog. I already have tonnes of photos to go along with those wonderful posts.

Before I go, something happened last Tuesday that shocked me. Okay, maybe I am over-reacting. I am a member of the Engineering Community Development Service group and we had our elections that day. All the candidates had obtained forms at a little cost, but all the positions to be filled had only one, unopposed candidate, except for the office of the Financial Secretary, which had two candidates, and that of the P.R.O, which had no aspirant. During the manifesto presentation, the first contestant (A) mentioned that he had served in a similar capacity in a church fellowship in the past. His spoken English was below par, but I guess I’d prefer an honest public officer who ‘shells’ than a well spoken one who would mismanage funds. Concerns were raised about his temper, but he responded well. The other contestant (B) seemed to have been more active in the past, but not many of us (Batch B Corps Members) were familiar with him, so long story short, the Batch B effect gave Contestant A the victory.

Now, here came the shocker. Just as the new winners were announced and were going to be officially presented to the house, B started to speak up from the back, where he was standing, “I want my money back!”. I would have been relieved if he had been joking, but he was damn serious about collecting back the 500 Naira (approximately $3.3) with which he obtained the form! He confidently said that was how things were in places he had been in the past. I felt embarrassed because we were all supposed to be (mature) University graduates with an advanced thinking faculty. We should be a lot different and ‘civil’ in our comportment as leaders in the society, in our respective quarters. Even if he had a right to seek a refund, the attitude he put up, without an iota of shame, was rather disturbing. I can imagine the kind of leaders we would all be if we do not amend our ways and approach life beyond the National Youth Service in such manner.

Till we see again, soon, Happy Sunday, and God bless Nigeria!

Photo credit:

Hello Lasgidi, Let’s catch up!

Moi on the Ropes Course

Hello friends. Last night, I slipped back into Lagos, Nigeria.

It’s been ages away from blogging, no thanks to the mandatory three weeks at Wannune Camp and another ten days in Makurdi, sorting out stuff and making the days count. Amidst a lot of fun and work, I made sure to capture some of the moments in words and pictures. In a few weeks, you should start reading the series of short and interesting blogposts from my various experiences in Benue State so far. I am currently working to ensure they are ready in a very enjoyable format for you: dear friends and GN faithful.

In other related news, I had a feature titled “Long Story Short: What’s On Your Bucket List?” Published on on the day I left for the NYSC camp. Earlier today, “iJebu: Random Notes about Old Nokia Phones, Parachutes, and More”, a short selection of random notes about frugality and technology trends (particularly, phones) was published too.

Also, the “Nigerian Dream” edition (Issue 5) of Y! Magazine is out. Graced with a stunning photograph of Nigeria’s sweetheart, Genevieve Nnaji, it contains several interesting features and yours truly has an article in there as well as a website review. According to a press release on Y! Naija, “… in Bikes, Boats and Balls, ‘Gbenga Awomodu takes a trip through Luxury Lane, profiling Nigeria’s fine breed of bikers, golfers and boat lovers”.

I’m off to catch up on more news and do some blog-rounds. Will be back soon!

Photo credit: Gbenga Awomodu