By Sunday Okobi and Amby Uneze
Safetynet For Children (SFC), a non-governmental organisation that seeks to advance the good health of Nigerians, particularly children and the adolescent, has drawn the attention of the government and Nigerians to the effect of tobacco to children and young adults.
According to a statement signed and made available to THISDAY yesterday by the group Chairman, Akomas Brent C., “We want to draw attention to recent developments in the tobacco industry in Nigeria especially as regards the effect to lives.
“Perhaps unknown to many, children and young adults are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the habit of tobacco products consumption, a trend which poses grave danger to the future of our country, considering the significance of this segment of the population in nation building both now and in the future.
“In this regard, we hereby draw the attention of Nigerians to some provisions in the 2016 review document by the Technical Committee on Standards for Tobacco and Tobacco Products set up by the Nigerian Industrial Standard for Tobacco and Tobacco Products.”
SFC added that item on page nine of the document states as follows that: “Flavouring substances, excluding menthol, with potential to initiate or appeal to children, such as strawberry, banana, apple among others, should not be used in the manufacture of cigarette.”
It noted that it found the exclusion of menthol from this list questionable as what this intends to achieve is quite unclear. Studies have shown that before the introduction of banana, apple, strawberry, flavours in cigarettes, child smokers were already very much used
to menthol flavoured-cigarettes and that they (children) still smoke menthol cigarettes up till now.
“In other words, the exclusion of menthol is incapable of discouraging children and young adults from the consumption of tobacco products, for the simple reason that they will merely retain their patronage of menthol products which had been aggressively marketed to them in the past, long before the introduction of banana, apple and strawberry products. So, if prohibiting products other than menthol-flavoured ones cannot stop the kids from consuming tobacco products, it remains unclear what their prohibition on one hand and the retention of menthol on the other will achieve,” Brent stated.
However, he stressed that there was a world-wide raging debate on the effect of menthol in cigarettes, especially on black people, adding that “We call on the relevant authorities to take another look on this policy of excluding menthol from the list of prohibited flavours in cigarettes, especially in view of its harmful nature and addictive potencies on the young people.
“We are aware that cigarette manufactures all over the world have always had the power to lobby for the institutionalisation of policies that enhance their trade in spite of obvious harmful effects of their products to the consumers. However, it is our expectation that the crusade on the harmful effects of tobacco consumption should be total, decisive and devoid of any suspicions to either deliberately or inadvertently enhance the existing monopolistic tendencies in the industry especially in Nigeria.
“Furthermore, SFC joins in the on-going advocacy for measures aimed at increasing the cost of tobacco products especially through raising taxes, which studies have shown to be the most effective way of reducing consumption and preventing children and young adults from cultivating the habit in the first place.”
Bama indigenes Set up 5,000 Civilian Security to Secure Town
Indigenes of Bama revealed that they had contributed men and money to set up a civilian security task force that would support the state government in protecting them from aggression of insurgents and work with the government in financing the ongoing reconstruction of the town.
Bama, the second largest town in Borno State was the worst hit by the Boko Haram insurgency as all structures were razed to the earth by the insurgents during the push by the military.
Addressing newsmen in Bama, the indigenes under the auspices of Bama Elders Forum led by Hon. Al-Amin Kamsalem said they had keyed into the ongoing reconstruction plan of Bama by the Borno State Government and were willing to do everything to ensure they got rehabilitated back to their beloved town.
Kamsalem, who was a former commissioner in the state and erstwhile chairman of Bama local government, leading other prominent indigenes to the press conference said: “All the professionals indigenes of Bama especially in the building and construction industry are going to render free service towards the rebuilding of Bama.
“We are going to definitely contribute financially, morally and spiritually towards the rebuilding of Bama and the continued peace of the town. We are completely behind the governor.”
He revealed that: “The Bama elders and the people of the community have equally mobilised our people to secure the town, we have Civilian JTF, local hunters and vigilantes already willing to protect the town against aggressors. All these people are ready to complement the security agencies.
“We are spiritual people and we will continue to pray for God’s continued protection on the town.
“We have donated 5,000 men to guard against any form of aggression on Bama; these are local hunters and Civilian JTF.”
Kamsalem, who commended the governor’s commitment to the rebuilding of the state and resettlement of the victims of Boko Haram, said the governor had shown with his relocation to Bama to superintend the ongoing reconstruction work, his exemplary leader qualities.
He said they were aware of the place of Bama in the heart of the governor as the second largest town in the state and strategic economic position with border with the Republic of Cameroon.
He expressed the willingness of the people of the town to go back to their homes once the ongoing reconstruction exercise was completed.
He said: “Our people are already on ground, assisting in the ongoing reconstruction of the town and we are all yearning to come back to our homes. Immediately the homes are ready, everyone would move in.”
Herdsmen Menace: Ekiti Varsity Don seeks Tightening of Nation’s Borders, Legislation
Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
A renowned University Don and Senior Political Science Lecturer with Ekiti State University, Dr. Azeez Olaniyan yesterday in Enugu asked the federal government to tighten security at the nation’s borders to stop herdsmen from neighbouring African countries from invading the country.
This came barely one week after an Ekiti State Magistrate Court sentenced a suspected herdsmen to two years in prison.
He also advocated for a legislation to check the activities of the herders as have been done in Ekiti state and urged the other 35 states Houses of Assembly to replicate the law in their respective states.
Olaniyan who spoke while delivering a paper at a one-day seminar organised by AfriHeritage, an African Heritage Institution, in Enugu noted that most of the suspected herdsmen perpetrating different kinds of crimes in the country were not Nigerians, insisting that the relevant security agencies must finds ways of checking influx of foreigners into the country.
The varsity don spoke as the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone 9, which covers Enugu, Abia and Anambra states, Mr. Hassan Karma, said that the herdsmen menace would continue unless the owners of the cattle were identified and possibly punished.
Karma said the menace was a national problem that needed concerted efforts to be tackled saying that community leaders compound the problem by receiving gratification from the herdsmen who in turn behave as if they have been licensed to do whatever they liked.
The university don who also attributed the movement of cattle herders from the North to areas in the South due to climate change noted that if foreign herdsmen are not checked from pouring into the country, the herders menace might persist.
Olaniyan who spoke on the topic titled: “Everywhere as Grazing Land: The Pastoralist Question and Inter-Group Relations in Nigeria,’’ said that climate change had forced over 5 million among the 19.7 million cattles in the country to shift from the north to the southern part of the country.
“The drying up of Lake Chad as well as long years of drought in the upper part of the North had made it mandatory for the cattle and cattle herders to shift to the south were the land is blessed with green grass throughout the year.
“Again, the issue of taking advantage of the economic prospect of the South especially in buying and consumption of beef meat is another luring incentive for the movement.
“Which I know that Lagos State alone, consume hundreds of cattle as beef meat; thus creating market and need to move towards this places,’’ he said.
The Political Science lecturer said that strengthening of the legal system was the only meaningful way out of the menace.
“The Ekiti State model is the way to go. There must be legalisation by the various state houses of assembly against this menace. This new law would help to even protect an innocent herder wrongly accused since it would go through a normal legal procedure,’’ Olaniyan added.
Olaniyan said that creating grazing zones by Federal Government fiat will not work because states have their rights to decide what is good for them like Ekiti State has done by enacting a legislation regulating grazing in their state.
He said that one brings about the crisis created by herdsmen is because they are not the owners of the cattle but are like drivers and the vehicle owners.
Participants suggested that when the real owners of the cattle are identified, it could be easy to tackle the herders menace because the cattle owners would be responsible for the actions of the herdsmen.