Posts tagged as: action

Land Disputes – Acholi Residents Resort to Local Council Courts

By Julius Ocungi

Pader — Mr Charles Opiyo, 33, and his family, have been battling a land court case for the last five years at the Pader Chief Magistrate’s Court.

Mr Opiyo, a resident of Otong Parish in Ogom Sub-county, Pader District, claims his family members are the rightful owners of the disputed 60 hectare-piece of land.

However, the case has dragged on for nearly half a decade with no proper explanation from judicial officials.

“My elder brother was arrested in 2012 by a rival clan member who claims the same land. He was detained at Pader Police Station for four days without proper charges,” Mr Opiyo told Daily Monitor last week.

He says, his brother was later dragged to court by the complainant but since then, he [the complainant] has never gone back to court to defend himself on the disputed land.

“Whenever we go to court, the case is always adjourned because the complainant doesn’t show up. We are unable to use the land because the matter is before court. We are unsure whether the judicial officials have been bribed or not,” he says.

Despite filing their affidavits in defence of their claim to the disputed land, he says no judicial officer has taken initiative to visit the disputed land as it’s the practice nowdays by the Judiciary before delivering a judgment.

Mr Opiyo says he spends more than Shs30,000 on transport to attend court proceedings, an amount that he says has proved costly for him and the family.

This, he says, has forced them to resort to local court system to resolve their land issue.

Mr Opiyo is among hundreds of people in the sub-region who have expressed disappointment with the mainstream judicial system’s handling of land cases.

“The main stream courts cannot be trusted with resolving land disputes. We want to use the local court system to mediate these matters because the elders and clan members know the boundaries between the disputed land better than judicial officials,” Mr Opiyo says.

Mr George Tek-kwo, a resident of Latoro Sub-county, Got Apwoyo Village in Nwoya District, is also opting for the local council court system.

According to Mr Tek-kwo, his trouble began in 2008 when he dragged his opponent to court over a disputed 1,300-hectare piece of land in Obira Upper Parish in Got Apwoyo Village.

“I acquired the land when it was degazetted by government. However, in 2008, an individual started working on the land claiming it was his. When I dragged him to court in Gulu, I won the case but he appealed. To date, the matter has not been concluded,” Mr Tek-Kwo laments.

Local councils role

Despite village council courts being established under Local Council Court Act 2006, which regulate their jurisdiction and mode of operation, their roles are widely considered illegal in handling land disputes.

The government has also failed, over the years to conduct elections of LC1 and LC2s since 2001, citing inadequate funds.

Mr John Ongwen, the Awere Sub-county Local Council court committee member, says their work within the community has not been appreciated much by the government yet they are helping to resolve many land disputes.

“Our land mediation is helping many vulnerable community members embroiled in land conflicts to get justice. We receive, on average, 10 land dispute cases a month but our efforts has paid off in peacefully mediating half of the cases every month,” Mr Ongwen says.

In Pader District, more than 80 per cent of the civil cases filed at the Magistrates’ Court are related to land disputes, according to the district senior lands officer, Mr Julius Nyeko.

Mr Nyeko attributes land conflicts to wrangles among family members, inter-clan disputes, boundary disputes between neighbours and institutional land disputes.

Victims

He said the most affected people have been the widows and elderly persons.

Mr Nyeko notes that many of the cases have not been properly resolved in court because either the plaintiff or accused don’t have financial capacity to hire lawyers and travel to court when their cases are due for hearing.

“The LCs are very important for our community in this region in handling land disputes. This is a court at the village level where the community can access it any time. It uses the language our community understands, involves elders and it is cheaper. We demand that government conducts their (LC) election so that they help in addressing the disputes within the community,” Mr Nyeko said.

Mr Samson Obitre, the officer in charge of criminal investigations at Pader Police Station, says the use of local council courts would help reduce cases of individuals running to court claiming other people’s land.

“We have had cases of some individuals rushing to court to claim ownership of a particular land. However, when such a matter is brought within the community, they are found not to be owning any land but just targeting a poor family to grab their land,” Mr Obitre says.

He observes that in a bid to avoid land cases escalating, the police have heightened investigations on allegations brought by both parties claiming land ownership.

In a build up to championing the land rights among the vulnerable communities in the region, Action Aid Uganda, an NGO, has been engaged in conducting trainings for local council court committee members and community paralegals as land mediators and counsellors on land rights.

Through their two-year project dubbed, “Promoting women’s land rights and livelihoods”, the organisation has trained 40 community paralegals on access to justice, mediation and referrals to enable them support the alternative dispute resolution of cases reported at community level.

According to Mr Albert Kwawan, the project officer of women land rights and livelihoods project at Action Aid Uganda, the project that rolled out in March 2016, is being implemented in Atiak Sub-county and Amuru Town Council, Amuru District.

Pending cases

According to the Judiciary court census as of December 2015, land matters stood at 18,056, which translated to 15.739 per cent.

About 80 per cent of the land in Acholi sub-region is held under customary tenure.

This partly explains why communities in Amuru District are protesting the government allocation of 10,000 hectares of their arable land to Madhvani Group to set up a sugarcane plantation and mill.

Land cases on the increase

Land disputes in Acholi have increased since 2007, as a result of the two-decade Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency in the sub-region.

It has been established that 94 per cent of the cases reported to local courts committee in Acholi sub-region are about land disputes.

Museveni Concedes to Oppositon On Proposed Land Law Changes

By Christina Okello

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni is to set up a special committee to examine land law after charges that proposed amendments to it will fuel land-grabbing. Plans to sell 10,000 hectares of land for investment have already sparked naked protests in the north of the country.

Opponents of the amendment, which has been in the works for some time, claim that it would allow the government to arbitrarily confiscate land from owners.

“There is already a history that it [the law] would be abused should such a change be done,” Henry Nickson Ogwal, director of Action Aid Uganda told RFI.

For him the bill in its current form goes against the constitution, which says that there must be “prior, adequate, fair compensation before the land is taken from anyone”.

Ogwal is not the only one who thinks that.

Several opposition MPs have been putting pressure on the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) to drop the amendment bill.

On Wednesday, after a heated meeting at the State House, they received a temporary reprieve.

Museveni agreed to set up a special committee to look into the Land Acquisitions Act, and then deliver its conclusions in the coming weeks.

“I see a strong indication that this law will be struck down,” reckons Ogwal, without denying the need for development.

Land-grab fears

“We all agree that there is need for a land acquisition law,” he says. “But the government must settle the land it may require legally and constitutionally.”

Fears over potential land grabs have come to the fore particularly in the northern district of Amuru.

“The government has always wanted that land for the last 10 years, even without the amendment,” the area’s MP, Akello Lucy, told RFI.

However, she does think that the amendment “would actually boost the government in ensuring that they don’t struggle with the people when they want to acquire land” and allow it to sell it off to the highest bidder.

In Amuru’s case that happens to be major investment company Madhvani Group, which wants to build a sugar factory on the 10,000-hectare plot.

It has the government’s approval and the government has been trying to get locals’ agreement. Except that efforts to conduct a survey of the land have been met with resistance.

Naked protests

Last week Lands Minister Betty Amongi was greeted by angry protesters, who stripped naked in protest at the plan.

Images of people being teargassed by police were later published.

Contacted by RFI, Minister Amongi said the survey was going according to plan and had been very successful.

“Yes, she can call it successful, but legally it is not successful because the use of force is not called for really,” asserts Lucy.

“If it was the will of the people, I am not sure they would be needing all that security, actually the security would be the people themselves and not the army and the police that they’ve deployed.”

Lucy maintains that the people of Amuru are not averse to investment, what they are unhappy about is the government’s approach.

“Forcing those who are not willing to give up their land and then intimidating them. That is why there has been really serious resistance.”

Contentious land history

Land is a sensitive issue in Uganda, particularly in the north where there have been long-running disputes over who actually owns what.

“There is a history in this country in the past, when the government had taken the land of citizens for different purposes, including for development projects but without paying them,” explains Ogwal.

In northern Uganda land disputes have often been triggered by former refugees returning from displacement camps seeking access to their land, some of which the government had already sold to the Madhvani Group.

“The government has set the problem it is solving as being failure of government projects to be implemented in time,” says Ogwal.

“Yet it is corruption and inefficiency that is slowing down these projects,” he says. “Amending the constitution is the wrong solution.”

Nigeria: Distribution of Expired Seeds, Inputs Will Affect Harvest – Farmers

By Balarabe Alkassim

Bauchi — Women farmers in Bauchi State have raised concerns about the distribution of expired agricultural inputs that may hinder bumper harvest envisaged under the Anchor Borrowers Programme.

The women expressed concern in a communiqué issued at the end of a one day budget tracking meeting of women farmers organised by Fahimta Women and Youth Development Initiative, Bauchi, in partnership with ActionAid Nigeria.

They also identified late distribution of inputs like high yielding seeds, fertilisers and insecticides as other major factors that could frustrate farmers’ efforts to boost both rain-fed and dry season farming in the state.

Some of the women, Rifkatu Magaji from Warji Local Government Area and Rhoda Haruna from Bogoro Local Government Area, who spoke at the meeting, said that some of the seeds distributed in their communities were not high yielding varieties.

They said crops that were slated for maturity within three months might take longer to mature.

Other women farmers re-echoed their earlier request for the training and retraining of more extension workers while those already on ground in the communities should be given logistic support to advise farmers on modern farming methods.

While speaking on the agricultural loan scheme, most of the women complained that delay in the disbursement of loans which was always granted farmers in July as against March/April was also hampering farmers’ efforts to purchase all the necessary inputs on time.

Nigeria

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Odinga Backers Ask Him to Foster Peace As He Weighs Options

Nairobi — Supporters of NASA leader Raila Odinga are now urging him to explore options that promote peace in the interest of the country’s stability.

The NASA leader was on Wednesday expected to make an announcement on the way forward for the Opposition, after losing the presidential election last week.

“I would like to say that as a resident of Kisumu, Raila Amolo Odinga can use a number of means to address his grievances with one of them including asking for international auditors to scrutinise the polls,” one of his supporters in Kisumu said.

“As we saw it, the elections had a number of small hitches here and there but that is past. I request Baba that when he speaks, he talks about issues that will contribute to the peace in the country,” another stated.

Odinga was expected to make the announcement on the next course of action Tuesday but his co-principal Musalia Mudavadi indicated that the issue at hand was weighty and needs further consultations by the coalition’s summit which was still weighing its options.

The international community and many within Kenya have urged Odinga to use legal means to express his grievances.

The Opposition leader has now lost four elections and cried foul over results in the previous two.

After the 2007 vote, Odinga’s supporters took to the streets, and a resulting crackdown coupled with a wave of politically motivated tribal violence left over 1,100 dead.

Kenya

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Ghana: GCB Bank Takes Over UT Bank Ltd. and Capital Bank Ltd.

press release

The Bank of Ghana (BoG) has revoked the Licenses of UT Bank Ltd. and Capital Bank Ltd., Dr Ernest Addison, Governor, BoG, announced at a news conference in Accra, yesterday.

Consequently, BoG, Dr Addison said, had approved a Purchase and Assumption (P&A) transaction with GCB Bank Ltd. that transferred all deposits and selected assets of UT Bank Ltd and Capital Bank Ltd to GCB Bank Ltd.

To that effect, the main offices and branches of UT Bank and Capital Bank will now be under the control of GCB bank; customers of UT Bank and Capital Bank are now customers of GCB bank; and all deposit customers will continue to have access to their funds.

Furthermore, UT Bank and Capital Bank branches and ATMs will continue to operate as normal as GCB bank branches and ATMs and all staff, in the interim, will become staff of GCB bank and GCB Bank will negotiate the terms of their contract.

In addition, the remaining assets and liabilities of UT Bank and Capital Bank will be realized and settled, respectively, through a receivership process to be undertaken by Messers Vish Ashiagbor and Eric Nana Nipah of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

This action by BoG, Dr Addison said, had become necessary due to severe impairment of the capitals of UT Bank Ltd. and Capital Bank Ltd.

He explained that the two banks were heavily deficient in capital and liquidity and their continuous operation exposed the financial system to instability and depositors’ funds to risks.

He disclosed that Restructuring and Capitalization plans submitted by the two banks, upon a request by BoG, were found to be unacceptable.

Dr Addison said GCB was, therefore, selected among 3 others on the basis of purchase price, cost of funding, branches to be retained, staff to be employed and impact on the acquiring bank’s capital adequacy ratio.

He said the objective of the approval by BoG of this transaction was to strengthen Ghana’s banking sector, ensure financial stability and protect depositors’ funds, adding that the action was in line with BoG’s broad objective of positioning the financial sector to support the government’s transformation agenda.

He re-assured the public that all customers could continue normal banking business at all UT Bank and Capital Bank facilities which were now branches of GCB bank.

Dr Addison also reassured customers of UT Bank and Capital Bank that their monies were safe and that they could continue to do business at their respective branches which were now the branches of GCB Bank.

The Banking and Specialized Deposit-Taking Institutions (SDI) Act, 2016 (Act 930) provides that undercapitalized banks be given 180 days to correct their capital position and that these banks should reach a minimum capital adequacy of 5 per cent in 90 days and 10 per cent in 180 days.

BoG is, therefore, mandated under the law to revoke the licenses of insolvent banks and banks that are likely to become insolvent.

Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)

Ghana

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South Africa: Informal Miners Demand Legalisation of Their Work

Photo: Ihsaan Haffejee/GroundUp

Informal miners, mostly from the Kimberley area, marched on the Department of Mineral Resources in Pretoria.

By Ihsaan Haffejee

Hundreds of informal miners, known as zama-zamas, marched to the Department of Mineral Resources in Pretoria on Tuesday. The miners, who mostly work in abandoned mine shafts and dumps, demanded the legalisation of their trade and the scrapping of the Mining Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA).

Their memorandum argued that the ban on informal mining in the MPRDA stops them from making an honest living. They come from communities where unemployment is rampant especially among young people. Harassment by mining security and police were two major complaints raised by the demonstrators.

The zama-zamas mobilised under the banner of Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA), an organisation formed in 2012 with the aim of uniting communities affected by large scale mining operations on their land.

Meshack Mbangula, the national Organiser for MACUA, addressed the protesters outside the gates of the Department of Mineral Resources which were closed and protected by a line of police. “Our minerals are owned by so called investors whose sole aim is to maximise profits and leave the people poor,” said Mbangula. He said that when communities who lived on the land try to get some of the minerals they were labelled illegal.

“This is our country. These are our minerals. We are the rightful owners of these minerals. We cannot be told by foreign companies that we are illegal in our own land,” said Mbangula as the crowd of protesters cheered in agreement. Speaking through a loudhailer, Mbangula told the miners that the government would always take the side of the large multinational mining companies and that mining communities should unite in the fight for their rights.

Many of the protesting miners traveled from the Kimberley area, where they have been mining for diamonds on abandoned mine dumps. Luckyboy Seekoei, the Kimberley chairperson of the zama-zama community, explained that artisanal miners in the area are working on the leftover and abandoned dumps left by mining companies. According to Seekoei these companies have extracted huge profits over the years and yet surrounding communities have remained trapped in poverty.

“They have closed the mines, saying there is no production. But when we go inside there, we always find something which we can use to provide for our families,” Seekoei said. “We are coming here to demand our basic right. Our right to work. If we cannot work we are not going to survive. If we cannot work then we are going to die.” He called on Minister of Mineral Resources Mosenenzi Zwane to encourage the mining companies to negotiate with the community to find a solution that is fair and sustainable.

Mollie Mooketsi, from a town near Kimberley, works as a zama-zama in an area close to her home. She said her husband and two sons had been jailed as a result of working as zama-zama miners and she had been left as the sole provider for her grandchildren. “Everyday I pick up a hundred buckets of soil. I crush it and then sift through it where we sometimes find small diamonds every few months. We are truly struggling as women,” said Mooketsi. She was angry with the government for failing to hand over land to her community so that they could work there legally and without the threat of arrest and incarceration. “The government must give us space and those companies must move from our fathers’ land so that we can work nicely and get money to support our children, to feed them and put them in school.”

Johan Lorenzen, a lawyer who has been working with the zama-zamas from Kimberley, said they were facing an interdict from one mining company and an eviction application from another which wants to remove the miners from their homes. The case would soon be heard at the Kimberley High Court.

The memorandum was signed and accepted by a representative from the Department of Mineral Resources who received the list of demands on behalf of the minister. She thanked the protesters for raising the issues and said that she would deliver the memorandum to the office of the minister and to the Director-General.

The protesters gave the department seven days to respond to their demands and vowed to return if they were not satisfied with the response.

Odinga Calms Supporters Over ‘Stolen’ Votes

Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga has called on his supporters not to go to work until he announces his next course of action after losing an election to President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Odinga’s move came on Sunday after the international community appealed to him to send out a message to try to halt deadly protests.

“Do not leave your homes. Do not go to work. We will make a declaration on Tuesday on which direction we are taking,” he told supporters in the Nairobi slum of Kibera, an opposition stronghold.

However, he defiantly pledged to “remove” Kenyatta’s government that he said stole votes from him in August 8 elections.

“We had predicted they will steal the election and that’s what happened. We are not done yet. We will not give up. Wait for the next course of action which I will announce the day after tomorrow [Tuesday],” he said.

Kibera residents climbed on to roof tops and hung off trees to catch sight of Odinga, who was speaking for the first time since Kenyatta was declared the victor on Friday in a poll he claims was massively rigged.

Al Jazeera’s Catherine Soi, reporting from Kibera, said: “People here said they will heed his call. They believe Odinga when he says his victory has been stolen. They will wait for more details of how exactly that happened.”

Kenya’s electoral commission announced on Friday that Kenyatta, 55, who has been in office since 2013, won a second five-year term with 54.27 per cent of the vote. Odinga, 72, secured 44.74 percent.

The opposition has said 100 Kenyans had been killed in clashes between Odinga’s supporters and the police.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights said on Sunday it had counted 24 deaths and accused police of using “excessive force”.

The National Police Service denied the allegations on Sunday, saying they were “unfounded and have no basis in fact and are clearly aimed at escalating tensions in the country”.

There had only been six fatalities in the past two days, according to the statement published on Facebook, saying armed criminals had attacked police trying to arrest them.

The statement said police were investigating “individuals suspected of incitement to violence” and warned that “there are photos of dead bodies being attributed to police action that are fake”.

Ethnic grievances

Odinga, an ethnic Luo who scored nearly 45 percent of votes to Kenyatta’s 54 percent, has a huge following notably among the poor who are drawn to his platform of more equitable economic growth.

But ethnic grievance is also a key aspect of his appeal.

Three of Kenya’s four presidents have been Kikuyu and the other Kalenjin, leaving Luos feeling excluded from power for over half a century.

Politics in Kenya is largely divided along tribal lines, and the winner-takes-all nature of elections has long provoked communal divisions.

Kenya

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Violence "Hotspots" Readied for Election Result – Aid Agencies

By Matthew Ponsford

London — “This is extremely high stakes. There’s an incredible amount of fear on the ground”

Aid agencies said on Wednesday they had stockpiled supplies in hotspots across Kenya and set aside emergency funds should conflict erupt after its “do-or-die” election.

“This is extremely high stakes. There’s an incredible amount of fear on the ground,” said Sarah Klassen, crisis anticipation officer for a group of 42 aid agencies from around the world.

She spoke to the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone, saying the seven hotspots were chosen as likely epicentres for fighting in the aftermath of Tuesday’s election.

Results from the vote could take days to emerge, with accusations of massive fraud already surfacing and fears rising of a repeat of the fighting that followed elections in 2007.

Klassen said the combined agencies – 11 of whom are active on the ground – aimed to mitigate the fallout from any repeat clashes, after more than 1,000 people died in 2007’s ethnic conflict.

To that end, Start Network – a group of international NGOs including ActionAid, Norwegian Refugee Council, and Christian Aid – stationed food and supplies in the high-risk locations, set up child-safe areas, and mapped routes for residents to escape the anticipated violence.

Klassen called Tuesday’s vote a “do-or-die” race, with Kenyans likening it to 2007 and raising fears that drought and high unemployment will aggravate tensions.

“All three of the scenarios our research produced [anticipating different election outcomes] involved some degree of violence – largely pockets of localised violence throughout the country, in both rural and urban areas.”

The vote has pitted President Uhuru Kenyatta, a wealthy 55-year-old businessman and the son of Kenya’s founding president, against 72-year-old Raila Odinga, a former political prisoner and son of Kenya’s first vice-president.

Odinga raised fears of unrest on Wednesday by claiming early reports of a commanding lead for his opponent were the result of a hack into election commission computer systems, leading to massive fraud.

A senior election official was found murdered last week, poll officials said, as Odinga’s opposition group, the National Super Alliance (NASA), said the killing could unleash turmoil.

The election commission said on Wednesday the voting process was free and fair and it was investigating whether or not its computer system was hacked.

Bijay Kumar, executive director of ActionAid Kenya, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that the Start Network has mobilised workers since the election in areas where Odinga has strong support, including in the largest cities, Mombasa and Nairobi.

“People are now watching and waiting,” Kumar said by phone from Nairobi, adding that there have been no indications of violence so far. The NGOs are drawing on lessons learned in the 2015 elections in Burundi, where alerts were raised in the run-up to the election, but funds were only released to agencies on the ground after clashes began.

Klassen said the Start Network’s fund of 300,000 pounds ($390,000) is a “huge shift” for the humanitarian sector, which is more used to reacting to trouble after it happens.

“The humanitarian system right now, it’s not working – it’s too expensive. We wait until things explode and then we allocate money, and it doesn’t make sense,” she added. ($1 = 0.7699 pounds) (Reporting by Matthew Ponsford, Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)

Kenyatta Calls for Peace During and After August 8 Polls

By Lucas Barasa, Samuel Kazungu and Pius Maundu

President Kenyatta on Wednesday said anyone planning to cause chaos on election day would face the law.

At a Jubilee Party rally in Kilifi town, the President, accompanied by his deputy William Ruto, asked Kenyans to cast their ballots and go home to wait for the results.

“Nobody should be intimidated into voting in a particular way,” said President Kenyatta. “Action will be taken against those who cause violence.”

Urging Coast residents to vote for him, the President added: “The choice will be between development and progress against rhetoric, propaganda and tribalism.

“They (National Super Alliance flagbearer Raila Odinga and his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka) told you we would be jailed by ICC but we still won in 2013.”

ROAD CONSTRUCTION

Citing road construction, equipping and upgrading of hospitals and doubling of electricity connections as among his achievements, he said 300,000 title deeds had been issued to Coast residents in the four years he has been in power.

Mr Ruto said Jubilee had a national outlook and the interests of Kenyans at heart, adding that many firms had set up base in Kenya from 2013.

Kilifi Jubilee governorship candidate Gideon Mung’aro said he would end corruption if elected on Tuesday.

Nasa and Jubilee are scrambling for the 1.7 million votes at the Coast, a region that overwhelmingly voted for the opposition in 2013.

Nasa leaders are expected in the region on Friday.

VIOLENCE

The President repeated his warning on violence when he landed in Wote town, Makueni County, hours later.

Nasa leaders have been calling on their supporters to remain at polling stations until the results are announced.

The opposition has also come up with a plan dubbed ‘Adopt-a-Polling Station’ to ensure no one leaves their usual residence for fear of violence and that they actually vote.

The President urged residents of Makueni, Kitui and Machakos to ditch the opposition. He said Mr Musyoka, who is from Kitui, was free to join Jubilee.

He said his development record would earn him a second term.

RURAL ELECTRIFICATION

“The government has done a lot in Makueni,” he said, citing roads, rural electrification and equipping of hospitals, “and we are in the process of constructing a Sh300 million Makueni Stadium”.

He said his administration was committed to the Sh62 billion Thwake Dam project.

President Kenyatta threatened to punish chiefs and other administrators who support the opposition. He said: “The allowances you are getting and motorcycles you ride are the property of Jubilee.”

The latest opinion polls show President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga in a neck-and-neck battle for State House.

Kenya

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Nigeria: Aisha Buhari Launches Campaign for Breastfeeding

By Judd-Leonard Okafor and Olayemi John-Mensah

Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, has formally launched the national Breastfeeding Advocacy Initiative in efforts to bolster the Abuja Breastfeeding Declaration reached last June to make breastfeeding a priority.

The launch-simultaneous in two other countries after a global launch last Thursday-also flagged off the World Breastfeeding Week to promote, protect breastfeeding and adequate child feeding practice.

“Mothers can’t do it alone,” said Buhari, who is also the National Nutrition Ambassador. “I have advocated to make it one of our country’s priorities … by investing in progammes and policies that foster enabling environment for breastfeeding women.”

She called for employers to set up breastfeeding rooms, day care centres and flexible hours to enable nursing mothers continue uninterrupted nursing for infants even in the workplace.

“Many mothers want to breastfeed for longer than they currently do, and these policies will help them do it,” said Buhari.

Only around 17 in every 100 children are fed exclusively on breast milk for the first six months of life. The rates have not increased in the last 20 years, placing Nigeria off track to meet a 50% target by 2025 in its National Strategic Plan of Action on Nutrition.

Health minister Isaac Adewole said breastfeeding is proven to prevent malnutrition, insisting the campaign is an urgent call for the world to reap its benefit as a first natural immunisation.

The Abuja Breastfeeding Declaration, reached after a Lancet Series last on breastfeeding, calls for disseminating accurate information of value of breastfeeding, fostering positive social attitudes, demonstrating political will, regulating the breastmilk substitute industry, and scaling up interventions amongst other priorities.

Adewole said the campaign will also focus on funding investment and the cost of not breastfeeding-for a child, a woman, a family and the nation.

Christopher Ugboko, head of gender, adolescent and elderly division at the federal health ministry, said documentation show children who don’t get breastfeed are more likely to take ill.

“When a child is sick, the mother-if she works-may not even go to work and sometimes the father, depending on the severity of the illness. These are costs on the country. She won’t contribute her quota the entire period the child is sick, to national development, and sometimes the father too.

If you put all that cost together, it is a lot. And they are saying if you just invest a million [naira] in our children, you are going to get eleven million simply by doing exclusive breastfeeding.”

Nigeria

I Have Not Purchased Any New Airplane – Tinubu

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