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Hugh Masekela, South Africa’s trumpeter, jazz artist and music legend, is dead. He died of prolonged prostrate cancer. He was aged 78.

“After a protracted and courageous battle with prostate cancer, he passed peacefully in Johannesburg,” Masekela’s family said in a statement.

It hailed his “activist contribution” to music, which it said “was contained in the minds and memory of millions.”

Later, South Africa’s minister of arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa confirmed the death on Twitter, with a moving tribute.

“A baobab tree has fallen, the nation has lost a one of a kind musician with the passing of Jazz legend bra Hugh Masekela. We can safely say bra Hugh was one of the great architects of Afro-Jazz and he uplifted the soul of our nation through his timeless music”, Mthethwa tweeted.

Hugh Masekela: 4 April 1939-23 January 2018

 

There has been an outpouring of tributes to his music, his long career and his anti-apartheid activism.

South African President Jacob Zuma praised Masekela as a “jazz artist, legendary trumpeter, cultural activist and liberation struggle veteran.”

“He kept the torch of freedom alive globally fighting apartheid through his music and mobilising international support,” Zuma said.

“It is an immeasurable loss to the music industry and to the country at large.”

Masekela fled apartheid South Africa in 1960, and did not return until after the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990.

Among his greatest hits were the beloved anthem “Bring Him Back Home”, demanding Mandela’s freedom from jail, and “Grazing in the Grass”.

Grazing In The Grass topped the Billboard Hot 100. He was the first African male Grammy nominee (1968). He won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the CHOMVA, Ghana Music Awards, Jazz FM Awards and MAMAs.

Keeping up his international touring schedule into his 70s with energetic shows, his concerts at home often became mass sing-alongs.

A teenaged Masekela was handed his first trumpet — and later a Louis Armstrong hand-me-down — through anti-apartheid activist priest Father Trevor Huddlestone.

“I took to it like a fish to water. I was a natural,” he recalled.

Masekela spent his early years in a conservative small town east of Johannesburg, surrounded by coal mines that relied on cheap black labour.

“It was in those days in Witbank that music first captured my soul, forced me to recognise its power,” he wrote in his candid autobiography “Still Grazing”.

Growing up under the worst of apartheid’s racial laws that classified blacks as second-class citizens, Masekela was desperate to leave the country that he described as cursed.

“When the airplane finally took off, it was as though a very heavy weight had been taken off me — as if I had been painfully constipated for 21 years,” he said of his flight to London.

Despite his long exile, the aching pain of a country ripped apart by skin colour never left his music.

Masekela moved to New York to study at the Manhattan School of Music and fell into a fast-paced life alongside fellow South African legend Miriam Makeba and giants of music like Dizzy Gillespie and Harry Belafonte.

Masekela and Makeba were briefly married in the early 1960s.

His first number one was the 1968 breezy single “Grazing in the Grass” which topped the US charts while he was living in Los Angeles and hanging out with stars like Jimi Hendrix and Marvin Gaye.

He later spent several years in West Africa, where he played with icons like Nigeria’s Fela Anikulapo Kuti, and in 1974 helped organise a three-day festival ahead of the “Rumble in the Jungle” boxing clash between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.

In the 1980s, he built a mobile recording studio in Botswana where he lived for several years, toured with Paul Simon of “Graceland” fame and helped with the score for the hit musical “Sarafina!”

A charismatic horn blower and vocalist, Masekela’s songs ranged from the haunting “Stimela” about trains taking black workers to South Africa’s mines, to the cheeky energy of “Thanayi” about a large woman’s struggle with food.

But his life was also filled with excess — women, alcohol and drugs — with which he struggled from his youth.

“I was drunk on money — when I could find it — drugs, which were never hard to find, love, lust and music, and in no hurry to sober up,” he wrote.

Affectionately known as “Bra Hugh”, Masekela finally returned to South Africa after the release of Mandela, who telephoned him while he was in New York.

Arts Minister Nathi Mthethwa said Tuesday that “the nation has lost a one-of-a-kind musician.”

“He uplifted the soul of our nation through his timeless music.”

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SANWO-OLU: WORK TO RESUME ON PEN-CINEMA BRIDGE

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There will soon be respite for motorists plying Agege-Pen Cinema axis in Lagos, as State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu assures accelerated completion of the abandoned Pen-Cinema Bridge.

The Governor spoke on Sunday while inspecting ongoing rehabilitation work on major roads in Iju area of the state by Lagos State Public Works Corporation.

Sanwo-Olu, in company of his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, said the contractor handling the bridge construction was being prepared for re-mobilisation back on the site.

Expressing concern over the pains residents go through due to regular gridlock on the alternative routes occasioned by abandoned project, Sanwo-Olu said his government would compensate for the discomfort by ensuring timely completion of the bridge.

He said: “I can assure you that we are currently in talks with the contractors handling key road projects in Ikorodu, which are Igbogbo and Ishawo roads, and also a critical project in Agege area, which is the Pen-Cinema Bridge. Our promise is that, if it is not by end of this month; then, by next month, the contractors will be fully mobilised back on sites to complete the work.

“We are particularly concerned about the pain motorists are going through because of the incomplete construction of Pen-Cinema Bridge. We are hoping that the contractor handling the bridge construction, too, will be mobilised back on site. Once we push these three critical infrastructures and get them completed, relief would come to residents in these areas.”

The Governor said the ongoing road repair across the state was an outcome of his Executive Order, which declared emergency rehabilitation of critical roads.

Sanwo-Olu said the repair was being carried out in six segments, pointing out that the highways and arterial carriages were captured in the first set of repair across the state.

He said repair work would begin on roads captured in other segments in succession. The Governor urged commuters to be patient while the repair is being carried out.

He expressed satisfaction on the level of work done, while assuring that the road rehabilitation would be ongoing to until 100 major roads marked for repair in all Local Government Areas across the state get done.

Sanwo-Olu said his administration would continue to be responsive to the challenges confronting the people, assuring the actions of his government would focus on bringing relief to taxpayers.

“We have risen up to the expectations of Lagosians and we believe there is still a lot more to do. It is a work in progress. But we can feel the immediate relief that are coming to residents of all the areas where the rehabilitation work is being done currently,” the Governor said.

Also joining the Governor during the inspection is the Head of Service, Mr. Hakeem Muri-Okunola, and General Manager of Lagos State Public Works Corporation, Engr. Daramola Olufemi.

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EDITORIAL: Healthcare Reforms in Nigeria; A Mere Political Statement Lacking Commitment

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By  Manny Ita

Nigeria has since her independence in 1960 had a very robust verbiage or policies by successive gobernments on health reforms but with very little progress or success recorded in what might well be a lack of political will in reforming the health sector.
Over 90% of the Nigerian population are without health insurance coverage. The inability to effectively address the country’s numerous public health challenges has contributed to the persistent and high level of poverty and weakness of the health system.
Political instability, corruption, limited institutional capacity and an unstable economy have also been major factors responsible for the poor development of health services in Nigeria. Households and individuals in Nigeria bear the burden of a dysfunctional and inequitable health system – delaying or not seeking health care and having to pay out of pocket for health care services that are not affordable.
The health challenges of the country include:
National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS),
National Immunisation Coverage Scheme (NICS),
Midwives Service Scheme (MSS)
Nigerian Pay for Performance scheme
After many attempts at implementing legislation on health insurance since 1960, NHIS, although established in 1999, was eventually launched only in 2005 with the goals to ensure access to quality health care services, provide financial risk protection, reduce rising costs of health care services and ensure efficiency in health care through programmes such as the: Formal Sector Social Health Insurance Programme (FSSHIP), Mobile Health, Voluntary Contributors Social Health Insurance Programme (VCSHIP), Tertiary Institution Social Health Insurance Programme (TISHIP), Community Based Social Health Insurance Programme (CBSHIP), Public Primary Pupils Social Health Insurance Programme (PPPSHIP), and the provision of health care services for children under 5 years, prison inmates, disabled persons, retirees and the elderly.
The NHIS was expected to provide social and financial risk protection by reducing the cost of health care and providing equitable access to basic health services with the most vulnerable populations in Nigeria including children, pregnant women, people living with disabilities, elderly, displaced, unemployed, retirees and the sick.
Free health care services and exemption mechanisms are expected to provide financial risk protection for the most vulnerable populations but evidence suggest that they are ineffective and have failed to achieve this aim.
The maternal mortality ratio for Nigeria remain quite high at 814 per 100000 live births according to 2016 World Health Statistics. Across the country, pregnant women and children under five years are generally charged fees when accessing health care services, despite the federal government’s declaration of free health for pregnant women and children under five years in 2005.
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole in 2016 announced the Federal Government’s plan to provide free health services to 100 million Nigerians in the next two years. Under this new health agenda, pregnant women across Nigeria are expected to enjoy free maternal and delivery services at the primary health care (PHC) level.
Unfortunately, Free health care services and exemption mechanisms often arise as campaign promises of political actors to the electorate and fall short in meeting the health needs of the most vulnerable populations. According to Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) in 2013, over 60% of pregnant women aged 15-49 deliver their babies at home without any antenatal care visits. In rural areas, this value reaches 76.9%. The situation is critical in North East and North West regions of Nigeria where over 79% of pregnant women age 15-49 deliver their babies at home. Over 60% of pregnant women in Bayelsa, Plateau and Niger deliver at home rather than a health facility.
The cost of health care and the low quality of care by the public have been argued to be the reason for the poor utilisation of maternal and child health services in Nigeria.
In addition, health spending in Nigeria is low and this is responsible for the over-reliance on out of pocket payments for health care services.
Despite its launch in 2005, NHIS covers less than 10% of the Nigerian population leaving the most vulnerable populations at the mercy of health care services that are not affordable. This means the most vulnerable populations in Nigeria are not provided with social and financial risk protection. Poor people constitutes about 70% of the Nigerian population. They lack access to basic health services, which social and financial risk protection should provide, because they cannot afford it.
CBSHIP was expected to meet their health needs as well as provide social and financial risk protection to this group, which mostly reside in rural areas. As evidenced in the high rate of out of pocket payments for health care services , poor people financially contribute more to health care than official care and funds programmes in Nigeria. Out of pocket payments for health care services limit the poor from accessing and utilising basic health care services.
The quality of health care services delivered is poor and remains a huge source of concern. Most of the PHC facilities that are supposed to meet the health needs of the poor and rural dwellers are in a poor state due to poor budgetary allocation.
In trying to solve these issues, healthcare in the country must be tackled headlong in order to stem the detyeriorating development therein, which could portend grave danger for citizens of the country in the no-ditant future.
Policy makers and political actors need to devise health care reforms to address the lack of social and financial protection for the poor and vulnerable populations. Part of this reform is the expansion of the NHIS. States should be mandated to provide health insurance coverage to all residents. Making health insurance optional for states over the years has affected the ability of the NHIS to increase the level of coverage for the people.
While the mandatory CBHI scheme is being scaled-up as a supplementary measure, state governments should enrol poor residents in a private health insurance plan and bear the responsibility of paying the monthly premium per person to Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs). It is not enough to have a national health insurance policy, it is important to ensure that health insurance coverage is provided to the poor and most vulnerable populations as a matter of the human right to health.
Although the NHIS Act made provision for children, who constitute the largest population in Nigeria, many children still have to pay for health care services in spite of being born into poor families that do not have the ability to pay for health care services and suffer financial hardship as a consequence. The free health policies and exemption mechanisms provided by some states, targeted at children, pregnant women and the elderly, are not social and financial risk protection policies, as these groups are largely responsible for the cost of health care with the free health care programme barely covering their basic health care services.
Another way of providing social and financial risk protection for poor and vulnerable populations is by establishing a legislative framework for a UHC scheme and setting aside funds for it. Evidence from Thailand has shown the effect of UHC schemes through PHC on expanding access to health care for the poor and vulnerable populations.
Political actors, policy makers and all stakeholders in the health sector should establish a government funded social and financial risk protection scheme through a general tax financing system for the poor and vulnerable, and invest in basic infrastructure for health care in rural areas for quality health care service delivery. UHC schemes are important in addressing the problem of poor coverage, limited access to health care, and poor quality of health care services.
Nigeria is yet to adopt innovative ways to protect the poor and vulnerable populations against financial risk of ill health. It is important to guarantee by law the right to health care of all citizens in Nigeria. Although the National Health Act (NHA) that was signed into law in 2014 stated that all Nigerians are entitled to basic minimum package of health care services, it is not clear if the provisions made in the NHA are capable of achieving UHC in Nigeria. In addition, the NHA is yet to be implemented over two years after its signage into law.
Some low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have been able to provide social and financial risk protection schemes for poor and vulnerable populations as a matter of the human right to health. Therefore, there is a need to provide social health protection schemes targeted at these groups in Nigeria. The poor and vulnerable populations should not become impoverished because of failure to obtain much needed health care services. Governments must reduce out of pocket payments for health care services by households through the adoption of a tax financed non-contributory UHC scheme.

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Protest Rocks Alausa Over Supreme Court Verdict On Agidingbi Community

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Scores of community leaders and residents of Agidingbi area of Ikeja on Thursday embarked on peaceful protest against the judgment of Supreme Court which awarded ownership of 398 acres of landed property in the community to a traditional land-owning family, Akinole-Oshiun.

The possession order is said to cover a large section of the Lateef Jakande Road, Acme Road, Fagba Close, and other streets around the area, totaling over 2000 buildings.

The protesters, who marched from Agidingbi to House of Assembly complex in Alausa, said Akinole-Oshiun family, which is the judgment-creditor in the case, had already given them seven days ultimatum to vacate their houses, urging the government to quickly intervene to avert bloodshed.

They displayed placard of various inscriptions such as “There is no ancestral link between Akinole and Agidingbi Land, Land Grabbers are enemies of Lagos State,” among others.

Leader of Ojodu Legislative Arm, Hon Wasiu Bolaji-Seidu who is also a community leader in Agidingbi said the news of the possession order came to the community as a big surprise as nobody from the area was served with the court process that led to the judgment.

He said: “On Friday, they (judgment-creditor) brought a judgment and placed it on our houses and said they have taken over the entire Agidingbi land. The issue is Agidingbi was not mentioned in the judgment; nobody from Agidingbi was part of the case and I don’t know how you will enforce a judgment against a person that was never part of the case.

“Agidingbi has been in existence for over 200 years ago. I was born and bred in Agidingbi; my forefathers were born and bred in Agidingbi and I don’t see any reason why somebody will just wake up and say they are the owner of the community.

“I am over 50 years; my father lived for over 90 years in this community before he died; my great grand-father died at the age of 150 years and I don’t know where Akinole is coming from and we have people like Habibatu Mogaji who was the Yeye-Oba of Agidingbi; we have Femi Okunnu who is our father in the community and we don’t know where Akin-ole came from.”

He particularly urged the State Government to activate the provisions of the Anti-Land Grabbing Law of the State, and prevent the matter from degenerating into a full blown crisis.

“To the best of my knowledge, I know that Lagos State has enacted a law duly signed by the Governor prohibiting land grabbing in the State because this is a clear example of such case. That is why we are here to call on the Lagos State House of Assembly to look into it and find a lasting solution, failure of which there will be bloodshed,” Bolaji-Seidu said.

Also speaking, Baale of Agidingbi, Chief Ganiyu Ayinde Haruna, said they were embarking on the peaceful protest to call the attention of government to the silent crisis that is brewing in the community.

Narrating how it all began, Haruna said: “On Friday last week, we woke up to see people posting possession order on our property and we don’t know these people. We have been living here for several years and the issue is we don’t know this family that is laying claim to ownership of our land.

“We have never heard any relationship with this Akinole family and so it is surprising to us. Nobody knew anything about the court case. I mean how can you enforce court judgment against a party that was never part of the case?  We are peaceful people and we are urging the Lagos State Government especially Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and the House of Assembly to intervene urgently in this matter because we don’t want bloodshed in our community.”

Also speaking, an 83-year old resident and Iyalode of Agidingbi, Evang Dorcas Faworaja said her great grand-parents were born in the area, therefore the claimant cannot just come from anywhere and lay claim to the community.

Receiving the protesters, Deputy Majority Leader of the Assembly, Hon Olumuyiwa Jimoh commended them for conducting themselves peacefully, assuring that the House would look into their case.

“Let me assure you that we are going to look into your petition without any fear or favour and I can assure you also that you will receive judgment at the end of the day,” Jimoh said.

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Agidingbi Community leaders presents their petition on the Supreme Court judgement to the Deputy Majority Leader, Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Jimoh Olumuyiwa Wahab (2nd right) on Thursday, 2nd May, 2019

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Agidingbi residents and community leaders protest against a Supreme Court judgement on their properties at the Lagos State House of Assembly, Alausa on Thursday, 2nd May, 2019

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Agidingbi residents and community leaders protest against a Supreme Court judgement on their properties at the Lagos State House of Assembly, Alausa on Thursday, 2nd May, 2019

www.securenigeria365.com

Agidingbi residents and community leaders protest against a Supreme Court judgement on their properties at the Lagos State House of Assembly, Alausa on Thursday, 2nd May, 2019

www.securenigeria365.com

Agidingbi residents and community leaders protest against a Supreme Court judgement on their properties at the Lagos State House of Assembly, Alausa on Thursday, 2nd May, 2019

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