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Outdoor advertisers seek review of signage agencies fee

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The Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria (OAAN) has condemned signage agencies in the country over hike in fee of outdoor advertisement.

President of the association, Emmanuel Ajufo, in a chat with journalists in Lagos recently, spoke on exploitation by the signage agencies in different states and how the practice is crippling their businesses.

“When we came on board, one of the things that we said was that we needed to engage our signage agencies more. We are professionals, but we also have the business part of us. We believe that when we continue to engage these agencies, we can learn practice better.

“Not too long ago, we had every businessman interested in our platform, but today we can count the number of people on it. Those days, our platform was the cheapest medium, the reason why it is almost the costliest now is because of the signage agencies.

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“We feel strongly that the signage agencies should do regulation, regulation is not about profit-making; it is about setting standards and for all of us who are practitioners to follow the standards.”

Ajufo said Ogun State government was the only state that had set up a board as required by the signage agencies law to guide their activities.

While condemning the act of being charged for vacant sites by some agencies, he pointed out, “we have been talking about the rate that it should come down. The one that is not good is that even when the board is not occupied, we are still made to pay the same rate. When you don’t have the money, the agencies will put it as debt, LASAA will say our members have over N2 billion debt, how they came about it, we don’t know. It is most of the time the money they charge us for vacant boards.

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“We have talking to the Lagos State Chamber of Commerce and Industry to have a meeting with LASSA, to explain to them the implications of some of these excessive bills they pass unto us.”

He also advised the signage agencies to obtain permit from court when trying to recover debt, saying their method of forcefully removing materials from the boards ended up damaging dome of them, particularly the electronic ones.

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Delta APC accuses Oborevwori of N50bn contract padding

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The Delta State chapter of the All Progressives Congress has accused Governor Sheriff Oborevweri of over-inflating three flyovers contracts, with about N50 billion.

The party accused Oborevweri of over-inflating the cost of the project, said to be estimated at N78 billion to the tune of N50 billion and expressed doubt that the project will be completed in the next eight years.

The state Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr Valentine Onojeghuo, told South-South PUNCH that the governor has arranged a variation of the cost of the project to jack it to N125 billion.

He said, “A few weeks ago, a group, Delta Contractors Forum, raised a red flag when it alerted that the N78 billion flyover project was a total fraud, insisting contrary to the claim by the state government that the construction company was mobilized with N19 billion – which is about 25 per cent of the contract sum, the governor actually fully mobilized Julius Berger with the total cost of N78 billion.

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“The Delta Contractors’ Forum further alleged that the governor connived with the construction company to get a kickback of N50 billion, while the governor has arranged a variation of the cost of the project to jack it up to N125 billion.

“With the groundbreaking of the project last Monday, the Delta State APC raised a confirmation alarm that, indeed, the multi-billion naira flyover project was not only a ruse, but a conduit pipe to fleece Deltans of over N78 billion.

“How can Delta State, with so much resources be talking about three flyovers at this point of its existence, when state like Rivers, under its former Governor Nyesome Wike constructed over nine flyovers for N63 billion before his exit from government?

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“Why is Delta State under Sheriff spending N78 billion to construct just only three flyovers?”

The party noted that it was impossible for three flyovers, which are not up to 1,500 metres and the expansion of the NPA-DSC Expressway from Effurun roundabout to cost up to N78 billion.

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Onojeghuo also noted that the immediate past governor of Ebonyi State and the incumbent Minister of Works, Engr. David Umahi, did not spend up to N78 billion on the 18 flyovers he constructed in the state.

He therefore called on Deltans to ask Oborevwori to give account of the total allocations and internally generated revenue, IGR, that have so far accrued to the state coffers in the past five months he has mounted the saddle of administering the state.

But responding to the allegation, the Executive Assistant on Communication and Orientation to the Delta State governor, Mr Latimore Oghenesivbe, described the allegation as baseless and mischievous.

Oghenesivbe challenged the APC to tell the public how it arrived at N50 billion contract padding.

He said, “The allegation was not supported with veritable evidence, and therefore should be discarded.

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“The construction of the three flyovers bridges, roads expansion and pedestrians, which was flagged off on Monday by Governor Oborevweri cannot be faulted by any right thinking Deltan or political party that means well for the state.

“This mischievous allegation clearly revealed that APC is anti-progress in Nigeria. First, APC lied by saying that the N78 billion contract sum was paid upfront to Julius Berger Plc.”

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Oghenesivbe said that Julius Berger would deployed high technology equipment and engineering expertise to deliver the project within 27 months.

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Men now becoming victims of domestic violence – NAPTIP

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The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons has identified an increasing trend of men becoming victims of sexual and gender-based violence in recent times.

The agency’s Director General, Fatima Waziri-Aza, disclosed this at a workshop organised with support from FORD Foundation on Wednesday in Abuja.

She stated that the cases border on physical violence, separating children from their fathers, and chasing men out of shared homes.

Waziri, reassuring men who are victims that the laws protect them, revealed that 15 complaints have been registered on such cases in 2023.

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She noted, “We have also started seeing new trends. In the past, we never used to get complaints from men. But now, we get complaints from men.

“Even though we know that most of these SGBV issues affect women more, but for the fact that men are reporting and are speaking up. It shows us that attitudes that used to be seen as normal in the past, attitude that used to be tolerated, is no longer tolerated.\

“I know that for this year, we have received about 15 complaints from men. These complaints border on physical violence from their partner. It also bothers on women isolating fathers from their children and pushing their husbands out of their shared home.

“This was something that never happened before. In the past I think, men are taught to be strong and internalise issues, but it is gratifying to see that men are speaking up. So this shows that men and boys also go through these issues. The laws are also there to protect them.”

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According to her, the workshop provides an avenue for stakeholders to strengthen collaboration among themselves and understand the different roles and responsibilities they each play in tackling SGBV issues while discussing strategies and stepping up advocacy efforts towards preventing and tackling the issue.

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“For us at NAPTIP, last year alone, we received about 2,400 cases of SGBV in the Federal Capital Territory, and with figures from January to October, we are closely pushing to the level that we saw last year.

“But one thing I can say for sure, most times when I hear people talking about concerns talking about issues of SGBV. We keep talking about this culture of silence, but I can categorically state that the culture of silence is progressively decreasing, and I say that because we see it in the increase in reportage that we receive as an agency,” she concluded.

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More men die of suicide in Africa, says CDC

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The Advisor, Non-communicable Diseases, Injuries and Mental Health for AfricaCDC, Dr Naeem Dalal, has stressed the need to stop cultural stereotypes that prevent African men from seeking emotional and mental wellness help.

Dalal spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lusaka, Zambia, on the sideline of a parallel session on Youth Mental Health in Africa, at the International Conference on Public Health in Africa on Tuesday.

The CPHIA, an annual event, is organised by the Africa Centres for Diseases Control and Prevention, with the 2023 edition being hosted by the Government of Zambia.

According to Dalal, stopping cultural stereotypes is necessary, as statistics specifically show that more men die by suicide on the continent of Africa.

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Dalal is a Psychiatrist from Lusaka, Zambia, a youth mental health specialist and currently the National Mental Health, focal person and specialist for the Zambia National Public Health Institute.

He said, “There is more active suicide amongst men.

“When we talk about suicide, we need to understand two things. There’s suicide which is passive and suicide, which is active

“Active suicide is where you die by suicide.

“Passive suicide is where you have thoughts of dying by killing yourself or harming yourself, but you don’t go ahead with those thoughts. So, that’s passive suicide.

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“Now, when we talk about statistics specifically for men on the continent in Africa, more men die by suicide.

“So, there’s more active suicide amongst men. For every 50 per cent of it, it is amongst the men that die and this is because men use more lethal with dying.’’

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Dalal highlighted some reasons that make men resort to suicide rather than seek help.

“It’s also important to understand that men do not reach out for help for mental health concerns or issues that they face because of the culture that we have in Africa, where men are supposed to be supportive.

“Men are supposed to be responsible and breadwinners in communities. Showing that part of vulnerability is not something that is accepted in our communities across the African continent in general.

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“And not just to stereotype it, but also to be factual that men are also taught not to be reaching out for help growing up as boys and boys are told to be strong and responsible.

“So, this also causes an issue for men to reach out for mental health services, even when they are there.

“These are the challenges we are facing,’’ he told NAN.

Dalal proffered some solutions aimed at reducing suicide on the continent.

“However, the solutions and the implementations that Africa CDC is currently carrying out is in the non-communicable diseases, injuries and mental health strategy.

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“They have flagship programmes that are looking at mental health advocacy for communities, looking also at men’s health.

“But in addition, there’s also mental health fellowships that are coming up, where they will build capacity amongst healthcare workers to also seek mental health as a profession.

“This is because the other challenge is in Africa; healthcare workers do not want to do mental health speciality.

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“These are the implementations that we are carrying out.

“We are also promoting more advocacy amongst the younger generation because the third leading cause of death by suicide is from the ages of 15 to 29.’’

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According to Dalal, a lot of advocacy is ongoing especially by the Africa CDC through the African Union.

“We are also advocating policy changes, where we make mental health applicable to the current realities that we are living,” he said.

He commended Nigeria for recently passing a bill on mental health.

The CPHIA2023 has the theme, “Breaking Barriers: Repositioning Africa in the Global Health Architecture.’’

The annual event runs from Nov. 27 to Nov. 30.

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