Lagos (4)

When sometime in '97 when I left primary school, hopes were that I would be admitted into one of the unity schools but as fate would have it, I ended up in FESTAC GRAMMAR SCHOOL. At that period when private secondary schools were for the super rich, I settled down hoping to enjoy my stay (which I did anyway).

A school which many people in my hood had attended, I went in with great expectations. Fot those of us who attended private primary schools, coping was not as easy but we still forged ahead. Right from the onset the school was referred to as a poultry just because it lacked modern structures. As at the late 90's, there was no functional library, the school clinic and computer room were under lock and key. We went to school and were called chickens since our school was referred to as a poultry, very annoying but we still persisted and hoped that government will do something before long.

One thing however that worked for the school was the academic excellence. Little wonder in 1998, the school won the "bournvita brain match" contest, this got the school some computers. People attended from as far mile 2, kirikiri town, satellite town, and other parts of Lagos. That was how popular festac grammar school was despite its shabby structure, the academic standard was good.

From the early 2000s however, academic standards starting falling as reflected in the yearly SSCE result of the school. My class for example didn't have a physics teacher for over a session, we didn't have a chemistry teacher for a while too. All through SS1, we had an english teacher who won't come to class but always sends test and exams as and when due. Only the biology teacher made us feel like students, God bless him wherever he is right now.

So we eventually left in 2003 and for years I did not return to the school until earlier this year when an ALUMNI was formed by different sets as one. It spans from the first set(84/85) to the latest set (2011). Holding monthly meetings since April this year, the alumni has waxed on stronger and stronger. One thing that was brought to our notice is that the school is a Lagos state property and so we can't do anything about it in terms of erecting structures. It was interesting and also sad when we discovered that FESTAC GRAMMAR school is the only school in the whole of Amuwo Odofin Local Education District with such "poultry like structure" and without a modern building. According to an ex student, the only 'manageable' building is a one storey donated to the school in the 80s for its academic excellence. Since then the school has been neglected from further development. The senior school benefited from ICT equipments donated by the government but the junior school could not benefit because there was no room and no electricity, it was taken to another school.

The Alumni which I'm a regular member has done little things from the school in our little capacity but more needs to be done because the school has become a shadow of its old self, population has drastically reduced from our days, structures are life threatning and in need of urgent attention by the Lagos state government who is soley responsible for the development of the school as one of its properties. If the state government won't allow "intruders" on its property then it should be bold enough to tackle the problems facing "our" school.

As I conclude, I want to appeal to the ever dependable Lagos state governor to come to the rescue of the school, unconfirmed source claimed the governor has been to the school before. I, on behalf of the FGS ALUMNI appeal to the Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola SAN to save the school from further degradation.


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12166311478?profile=originalThe Lagos State Traditional Medicine Board has identified financial and manpower constraints as some of the challenges facing its clampdown on the over 5,000 illegal traditional medical centres estimated to be operating in the state.

Bodunrin Oluwa, the Board Registrar, stated this at the graduation ceremony for 26 traditional medical practitioners, who had concluded a six-week periodic training programme for the certification of their practice. The Board is the only regulatory body for unorthodox medical practice in the state. 

5,000 illegal operators

According to Mr. Oluwa, there are less than 1,000 legal traditional medical centres currently operating in the state. He said ongoing efforts to sanitise the system and prevent the proliferation of illegal traditional treatment centres have been hampered by “financial, mobility, and manpower constraints.” Appealing for more government and public support, he said that the board has “one and a half vehicles because one is almost off the road and shortage of manpower to effectively monitor the activities of the practitioners.”

With a mandate to sanction illegal traditional medical centres, Mr Oluwa said there are over 5,000 of traditional medical practitioners operating illegally in the state, with about 4,000 registered ones. “However, we have less than 1,000 operating legally out of the 4,000 because many of them have not been coming for license renewal yearly, and so they are categorised as illegal,” he said. 

Dealing with fake drugs

In recent times, drugs produced by traditional medical practitioners and made from local herbs have flooded the market. However many of them are still in the board’s bad books, in spite of claims of having the endorsement of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control. Mr Oluwa said it is the board’s duty to “verify” the value of the drugs produced by the traditional medical practitioners. “But it seems NAFDAC has been playing the role,” he said. “NAFDAC only checks that it is not poisonous or harmful to human consumption. We have been doing the job, but only for the few that come to us; however, most of the drugs in the market have not passed through the board.” 

Training the legit

Traditional medical practitioners are registered after a successful completion of the board’s periodic training programme, covering general healing, faith healing/spiritualism, traditional birth attending, bone setting, among others. According to Mr Oluwa, the training programme also includes the inspection of students’ facilities and presentation of seminars, all aimed at sanitising the traditional medical practice and sensitising the public. “We try to reduce the level of mortality by improving their knowledge and also allay public fear that traditional medicine is fetish and that the practitioners are all ‘babalawo’ (occultists),” he said.

Sarah Ajuwon, a traditional birth attendant, who said she had so far relied on “blessed water, prayer, and routine drugs like Folic Acid and Ferrous”, said she has learnt improved methods to deliver babies. “I’ve learnt how to arrange the labour room and produce herbs for safe delivery,” she said. “We’ve also been told not to give injection, and such cases should be referred to a general hospital.”


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It was well into the evening, everyone in the news bus froze as a group of young men scampered past in a haste armed with matchetes, axes and cudgels, they
thankfully breezed past us without a sideward glace.

But realising we were journalists one of the amateur hunters took up the role of ‘tatafo’-a
talebearer. “come and see this fish as big as a house” he said.

We stared at him like he was moonstruck, but then he didn’t need any convincing we were
the heathen.His other friends congregated nearby, quickly sensing the
opportunity to fleece us of some cash.

Curiosity however took a hold of us and we offered the young men a free ride to their spectacle however baiting
them with cash at the end of the tunnel.

The vehicle reached a stop at Elf bus stop at Lekki, and the smell of fish and sea water nearly drove everyone
seasick, but not our cotravellers.They were out in a jiffy sprinting towards
fellow bounty hunters.We stood in .amazement.This house-like fish was

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NKEM Akinsoto has written her way into limelight with her debut novel, A Heart to Mend, however, under a pseudo name, Myne Whitman. The writer and editor currently residing in Seattle, United States, is on a journey to seeing her stories in print. She aspires to see her work on big and small TV screens everywhere.

Giving reasons why she took up the name Myne Whitman, Nkem said she grew up during the 80s in Enugu, Nigeria. In an online interview, she wrote, “my earliest memories are of studying, reading everything I could lay my hands on, and then trying to play as much as I could. I have worked as a teacher, NGO consultant, banker, skate-hire attendant, researcher and Scottish government worker.

The young author said she started to write while still in primary school. “My writings then were about the kind of adventures the tomboy I was wished I had. When I started writing seriously later, I found my pen tilting to the romance genre. You can blame it on all the category romance novels I ran through in secondary school, and still read once in a while. The only difference was that I based all my stories in Nigeria, with local characters and continues to do so. However, I decided on a pseudonym and since I was writing in English, Myne Whitman was born.”

She describes herself as friendly, caring and fun loving. After a postgraduate degree and a few years in Edinburgh, Scotland, she now lives in the United States with her husband.

Myne Whitman is, however, a creation of her blogging. “I decided to start the Myne Whitman Writes blog because of the feedback I received from readers at my favourite online forum, Nigeria Village Square and from my writing group. I had a poetry blog on NVS and had been reading other blogs, but it never occurred to me to start blogging because most of the ones I read were personal blogs. Some of the members of my meet-up had blogs where they shared previews or excerpts of their work. They advised that I could start one to get more feedback on the story I was writing then, and know when it's ready for the market.”

How did she then create the niche as a writer? She replies, “most times, I’m very private until I feel I have established a rapport with the people I meet. So, I knew I could never start a personal blog. I used to read two writing blogs, which gave me an idea of what I wanted to do and they were by Favoured girl and Flourishing Florida. I’m happy I have been able to establish my blog as a story and writing site but it has just been luck. I salute all the naija blogsville members especially those who have stood the test of time and made it the community it is today.

“But horning my writing skills, I have taken some free online courses and workshops for Creative and Fiction Writing from the University of Utah, MIT, Open University UK and Suite 101. These courses are an on-going project. I am also a member of a Writing meet up group in my area, which includes traditionally/self-published authors and gifted writers/editors. The members were a great help in the course of writing A Heart to Mend.”

Thinking of her home country, she is not only looking for an inroad with student representatives in Nigerian universities, she thinks there is no better time to launch herself than the month of February. “This is just in time because the book will make perfect Valentine's Day gifts.”

The Nigerian author, last December, wrote a captivating novel that presents the gripping tale of a young woman finding her feet in the world and how her life intersects with that of the wealthy egoist she meets. This main story line runs through the subplots of a tear-soaked family reunion and high-powered company acquisitions.
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