Thursday, 3 April 2014

Current Happenings on the Tobacco Control Bill

A major deficit to the regulation of tobacco in Nigeria is the inefficiency or lack of legislation. Different bills have been raised in both the Senate and the House of Representatives but unfortunately, they have not been successfully passed into law. There are currently two tobacco bills waiting to be enacted; a 2012 bill sponsored in the Senate by Senator Ifeanyi Okowa and a more recent 2013 bill raised in the House of Representatives, sponsored by Hon. Yacoob Bush-Alebiosu.

However, at the 6th session of the National Assembly which lasted between 2007 to 2011, the National Tobacco Control Bill, was formally presented & finally approved by the Senate for passage at its seating on Tuesday March 15th 2011. This happened twenty five (25) months after its initial presentation to the Senate and was a monumental victory for Nigerians, both young and old, especially minors, public health, tobacco control in Nigeria and for the Coalition Against Tobacco (CAT), which was instrumental to the initiation, creation, drafting, lobbying and followed through this bill from the various plenary sessions debating the bill to the public hearing and eventual approval for passage by both the upper & lower chambers of the National Assembly (NA).

CAT’s January 2008 Abuja inauguration, served as the platform for Dr. Aliyu Modibbo Umar (then Minister of the FCT) to announce the declaration making the FCT smoke-free, effective June 2008.  He at the event also sought the support and cooperation of the legislative arm of government, which was represented at the event by Senator Mamora (Sponsor of the tobacco bill and current Deputy Chief whip of the Senate) to enact and push for an effective bill regulating the tobacco industry’s’ excesses. Senator Mamora gave his assurances for the expedient passage of the bill, which we are today celebrating. The Bill’s essential components include:
A  National Tobacco Control (TC) Committee to guide implementation and future TC policies;
A comprehensive ban of smoking in public places;
Clearly visible tax stamps on cigarette packs;
A ban on sales to minors and by minors;
Prohibition of the sale of cigarettes that are not packaged – but the bill doesn’t specify the number per pack;
A comprehensive ban on advertising, sponsorship and promotion, including by mail, testimonials, brand stretching, indirect advertising, etc;
Health warnings covering 50 percent of the display area of tobacco packages, with the Minister of Health empowered to prescribe pictures or pictogram;
Enforcement provisions to ensure that the law is effectively implemented.
Unfortunately the journey was truncated, as our bill-making process requires action both from the National Assembly (NA) first in discussing and passing a bill. And thereafter, the executive arm of government i.e. the President fulfills its part by giving assent to the bill passed by the NA for such to become law in the land. Because we did not cross these two hurdles back in 2011, we are at the starting blocks AGAIN on a journey to a tobacco control bill before the current NA session ends in 2015.

Knowing previous work that has gone into this without crossing the finishing line and sustained efforts since 2012, this time, the goal is to ensure BOTH legislative & executive arms of government do their part and fulfill their given roles as custodians of the people's mandate who work for a safe environment for all Nigerians.

Therefore, we are mobilizing efforts and intensifying our drive in the attainment of a smoke-free Nigeria NOW. Towards the end of April 2014, the House of Representatives will call for a public hearing to discuss the current bill before it and we URGE you to ATTEND as well as PARTICIPATE in these process by giving feedback directly to your representative and/or also lending your VOICE as YOU join us in the TC RADIO CAMPAIGN and INVITE your FRIENDS & FAMILY to do the same by subscribing via sms. Text (TC Name Email Location Message) to 39405 as together we can make the change we desire.

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Friday, 7 February 2014

Jide's SHS Story

Jide is working for a leading consultancy in Lagos with great prospects for career progression. Infact, Mr. B, his boss has taken him under his wings and is determined to help him become the best he can be. Jide is happy to work for such a seasoned professional and looks back at the days when after NYSC, job hunting took him to the nooks & corners of the city seeking the golden fleece. He is thankful for the opportunity and knows it is a dream come true. That is why he will not allow anything including ill health stop him from giving his best as he cannot afford to disappoint his benefactor. He would have to literally be unable to move before he misses one day of work as he not only loves his job and has without fail showed up daily for the past five years.

Now, Jide is getting married to his lady, Edidong who he met two years back in the course of one of their work at a client site. Content he has made the right choice, he is looking forward to their wedding scheduled for March 2014. On a bright & sunny day, Jide wakes up and cannot get out of bed. He wonders what's happening since he was perfectly fine though come to think of it, has been experiencing some intermittent chest pains for a while now. Since his office also provided good health cover, he decided to do a quick check thinking it will be just a visit only to hear Dr. Emeka say he is to be admitted for close monitoring.

Two days after, Dr. Emeka comes into Jide's private room paid for by the office and he wears a sad look. Jide assumes it must be some other case of his that is bogging him since he is expecting the good doctor to say 'you have been discharged'. Edidong is by his bedside too and they both looking expectantly, wait for the Dr. Emeka to speak. Clearing his throat, he begins to ask a series of routine questions like do you smoke?, do you drink alcohol?, when was your last HIV test? Jide is getting upset with the line of questions and snaps 'Doc, you've got my medical history so why all these questions?.' Dr Emeka gazes at him and after an uncomfortable silence says 'I don't want to shock you but you have got cancer of the lungs'.

What! Jide exclaims. That is impossible. Turning to Edidong, he seeks clarification. How can this be? Dr. Emeka speaks further the further tests I ordered two days ago just can in and this is the prognosis. Now, we have to decide on a course of action. Jide not willing to let matters slide states to the good doctor, there must be an error with the result. Dr. Emeka with a sober countenance says he had the lab doing the test thrice.
Edidong speaks for the first time to Dr. Emeka 'Are you sure, doctor?' What is the cause of this? Smoking came the reply. Now, Jide is baffled. I have never smoked once in the my life so, there must be a mistake here. Surely, there is a mix-up somewhere.

Speaking further, Dr. Emeka replies if you don't smoke, do you have people around you either now or in the past who do regularly? Jide is quick to answer NO! then he pauses deep in thought. For you see, his beloved mentor, Mr. B is a die-hard smoker and cannot be separated from his cigarettes. What about his dad who while he loved dearly till he died but was also addicted to smoking. Surely, they were the ones smoking & not him so what is the connection? SHS came the doctor's reply.

Quite a number of us are aware of the dangers of smoking on our body but few of us know of the extended impact smoking carries through SHS on people who are not smokers but are exposed to cigarette smoke and thus, inhale it as other folks around them puff away either in the workplace, at home, in school or elsewhere.

So, you see, while smoking is a lifestyle choice. One person's choice has been proven to no longer affect just him/her as when it comes to smoking, the field of influence is anybody & everybody around the smoking zone.

Therefore, it is critical that you & I support the Tobacco Control cause that has implications for all of us. Lets take a big step towards preserving the lives of Nigerian citizens TODAY  as we urge the National assembly to follow suit by assenting to the pending National Tobacco (Control) Bill passed since 2011.

Join us in making this strong appeal for the National Assembly to pass this bill, follow us on twitter, add your voice by visiting our facebook page, like our post, drop your comments and share widely with others. Together we can make the change that we all desire.

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Jide's SHS story is a fictitous human angle story. All characters are creation's of the author entirely and bear no semblance to known persons.

Monday, 3 February 2014

The problem called "Pride"

I was looking at my Instagram a few days ago and I saw an ad for the 15th Annual NFL Super Bowl Gospel Celebration at the Madison Square Garden Theatre and for some reason I just had this persistent urge to get the tickets and go.  As many of you may know, I am really not an event or concert kind of person. I would rather just be at home with my children, but this time it was different. I was not sure if it was because some of my favourite gospel musicians were going to perform or just because I had not been out in a while.
Long story short I got the tickets, went for it and believe me, that was one of the best decisions of my life because at that concert I saw something that I know would change my life forever. What good will it be if i keep it to myself and not share with other people that may need to hear this message to make a change in their life for the better.

When I got into the venue I was really excited. The thought of watching Grammy Award-Winning Musical Artists Patti Labelle, Mary Mary, Natalie Grant, Tamela Mann, Donnie McClurkin and NFL Players both active and retired, The NFL Players Choir, Celebrity Guests; made me feel like a 7 year old boy whose parents had promised him they would get him as many action figures as he wants from Toys ‘r’ Us. I was elated both before the show and even more after.

Tamela Mann
All the artists performances were amazing and so overwhelming but in the midst of all the fun, laughter and worship, I  witnessed humility at its peak more than once.
From my seat I could see Donnie, Tamela and all the other celebrity guests seated in front. I also spotted Reverend Jesse Jackson; for those of you that may not know him please google him. He’s an American Civil Rights activist and a Baptist Minister. He is highly respected in America as he falls into the rank of Martin Luther King Jnr and other notable civil rights activists.

Now after the introduction I just gave and for those of you that googled him and read up on his life and things he has done, you
Rev. Jesse Jackson 
may expect me to say things like he sat there with an entourage of security, didn’t clap or move once for any of the performers or even acknowledge the presence of another person in the room but YOU ARE WRONG! Rev. Jesse Jackson showed me the true meaning of humility. Twice during the show he stood up from his seat, walked up to the front row to greet some of the performers. The first time he walked up to Donnie McCklurkin, shook his hand and they exchanged pleasantries and he left. The second time was after Candace who won the last American idol finished performing with Patti Labelle . He walked up to her, took her hand and kissed it then they talked for a bit and he left. He got up again to hug three people in the second row whom I am sure he didn't know that well.

I was stunned to say the least. Of all the people I have met and interacted with in this world (and trust me they are a lot), there are just about 3 people I have met that I have seen display such humility and one of them is Tuface Idibia.
As humble as I like to think I am, I doubt that my humility measures up to that which Rev Jesse Jackson showed at the concert.

Maddison Square Garden
After the amazing and uplifting concert, I couldn’t help but only ponder on what I saw. It got me thinking that when I get to that level in life, would I be that humble? So I asked myself "even with the little God has given me now, have I been as humble as He expects me to be?"

Many of us like to think that we are very humble people but the truth is that true humility can only be tested when a person is placed at a certain level in life. When you have endless riches, power, fame, blessings, everything! That's when you can truly  determine how humble you are.
Another thing that crossed my mind was, "could we still be where we are simply because God sees that if he puts us at that place we all want to be that we would loose our humility?"

As much as we like to deny it, we all have a bit of pride in us. Its as simple as you seeing someone who you had a problem with a while ago and when you see them you turn your head and act like you didn't even know they were there;  just because you are too proud to walk up to them and say hello and try to work out the issue. Even the simple statements we make “Why I should I be the first one to make a move", "I am older so she should apologize first," " If I get up and go to her, people will see her as the bigger star",  "Do you even know who I am”?  Pride.
Sometimes I imagine God watching us make such statements and wondering “Hmm, I haven’t even given you half of what I have in store for you and yet you speak this way, I wonder what will happen when I release it all to you”

Is it possible that because God sees we are not ready for all he has prepared for us thats why we are still where we are?
Its very important that we think about this deeply.

Think back to all those proud statements you’ve made and all the things you’ve done out of pride then think about where it is you want to be in life and see how pride is stopping you from unlocking all those dreams and aspirations.

As the popular saying goes “Pride comes before a fall” so permit me to be creative and say “Humility comes before a rise"

Wednesday, 1 January 2014


I am starting my year with a twenty one day fast and asking God for strength to see it through.
I know the things that I need God to do for me and my family! I also know that I need answers and direction from God. Most importantly I know that it is time to stop wasting my time and face my calling regardless of what people will say or think.

I know That I want to build my relationship with God and advertise him to the world with all that he has given me. I also know that it is time for you all to step out in faith and live the best life you were called to live. As the world draws closer to its end, we all need to be mindful of what we absorb from this world and society.

- We all need to know where we stand and who we stand for
- We all need to know for a fact, what we are doing and when we are supposed to do it

- We all need to know where we are heading and not be guided by the expectations of people 

- I am not going to waste my time in 2014 
- I am not going to look the way people expect me to look but the way i know I should look
- I am not going to spend money on irrelevant things when there are hungry and uneducated children out there who need help

- I am not going to attend an event because people expect me to, but because I am supposed to
- I am not going to comment on something because the world is expecting a reaction from me but speak as the Holy Spirit leads me
- I am not going to be afraid to do the things God has asked me to do because of the impression some people have of me
- I am not going to please man and offend God
- I am not going to keep friends who are not willing to follow the will of God and encourage me to love him
- I am not going to beg or seek for validation from man but from God who has already validated and endorsed me
- I am not going to say I am not good enough or I am not qualified because God created me for such a time as this
- I am not going to run away from the real me just because I want to retain fans and friends
- I will be happy and joyful
- I will live my life to the fullest
- I will love and praise God who is the creator of all things
- I will stand by the truth I know, no matter what
- I will love and pray for my enemies no matter how difficult it is
- I will run away from evil and its people
- I will tell those who care to listen about the God I have come to know
- I will sing the songs that I have always wanted to sing whether my voice is wonderful or not

- I will spend my time on important things


- I will not follow unnecessary trend when I know it is not good for me
- I will be content with what I have and where I am
- I will encourage and teach all those who are in my life

These are not new year resolutions but decisions I know I should have made long ago.

- 2014 is the year that we should all sit back and find out from God who we are, what our purpose is and how to go about it
- 2014 is the year we should all be free to do the work that we would enjoy and be paid for doing it

- 2014 is the year of our financial freedom and breakthrough
- 2014 is the year that we will all realize the Most important things in life
- 2014 is the year that jealousy, envy and gossip will no longer hold us back from our blessings and favor
- 2014 is the year we will stand for what is right and just

- 2014 is the year we stop thinking about ourselves alone but about every child created by God

I declare freedom to everyone

- Freedom to be the you whom God has created
- Freedom to do what you have been called to do
- Freedom to love and live freely
- Freedom from hiding behind society
- Freedom to explore the things you have always wanted
- Freedom to live regardless of what the world might say
- Freedom to be happy without any apologies
- Freedom to love and praise God in public regardless of your mistakes 

- It's not too late to say I am sorry
- It's not too late to say I love you
- It's not too late to say forgive me
- It's not too late to show kindness
- It's not too late to give
- It's not too late to pray
- It's not too late to change 

In fact, the time is now.

Happy New Year and God bless you all.

Love ya loads.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

What is your truth?

Satan is the father of lies. We all say this but do we really understand the meaning of it?

A LIE is as effective as the TRUTH if you believe it and act on it.
We all need to be careful about the things we decide to act on.
Sometimes if you look within yourself and evaluate your life's journey, you might just be shocked that your whole life has been ruled by the lies you acted on. As far as you were concerned, they were the truths that you knew, but what if what you believed to be true turned out to be lies.

- What if that person you resent so much is actually the friend you should have had?
- What if the best friend you have is actually the one telling you all the lies in the world just to get you to be close to him or her?
- What if all the warnings and prophecies you received from that man who always asked for money to pray for you were all false?
- What if some so called friends and loved ones decided to hide some vital truths from you just so that you are not hurt?
- What if the media has sold lies to you about people they know nothing about?
- What if people around you have made you give up on your dreams that would lead to your fulfilling the destiny you were called to fulfill, by telling you that you were not good enough, or intelligent enough, or the idea would fail?

What is your TRUTH?

Do you believe that there is a God who gave his son Jesus to die for us or do you believe in the great BIG BANG that science is teaching?

I ask again, what is your truth?

How do you know what is real?
How do you define your own truth?
Do you draw truth based on mere words from others?
Have you ever asked God to reveal your truth to you?
Do you prefer to act on the truth of others or your own truth?
What if the truth of another person is the LIE to you because of who you are?

Find your truth and you will know who you are.

God be with you now and always.
Stella Damasus

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

To Jay

Wow! It's amazing how time flies. It's been nine years since you left us and it still feels like yesterday. I guess it's because I remember too many things and feel all the emotions like they just happened. I woke up this morning with thoughts and visions of you, wondering what you could be doing right now and the number of new friends and angels you would be chatting with now.
You were always the man of the people; who loved to put smiles on faces, especially mine.

I also wondered what and who you would expect me to be now. I wondered if I have done justice to at least a huge portion of all the plans we had together.
Before I got out of bed I wanted to make sure that wherever you are, there would still be a smile on your face when you see how far I have gone. I nodded my head, smiled and got up because I knew that God heard us those nights we held hands and prayed together, asking for his help in accomplishing what we set out to do, especially in the lives of our children Isabel and Angelica. He has done great things in our lives and has continued to be there for us.

Jaiye, your girls miss you so much and I have made sure that whenever they hear any of your songs, they know it's you because that voice has remained in their hearts. Isabel still tells me how she knows that her shoe size came from you and Angelica insists that her height has nothing to do with me but owes it to you. Above all they know and will always know what a wonderful and loving father you were. Nothing will ever change that no matter what.
As I always say "time does not heal wounds, it only makes the load and pain lighter. Only God can heal wounds".

Today I am writing this letter to you and I am not crying, instead I am smiling because in my heart I know you are in the best place ever, where your laughter will resonate.
I miss you so much my love and I know that when the time comes I will see you again.

Okay, let me go and face the world now. You are so lucky because you no longer have to deal with all the hate, gossip, backbiting, deception, oppression, sickness, war, accidents, disasters, robbery and all the other things the rest of us have to deal with.

Rest in the arms of The Lord JAY.

Let me go and continue with all the negativity the world brings. My happiness is that I am not going alone, my God is with me all the way.

Rest in peace.

Friday, 29 November 2013


No more tears

I feel shame when I look into the mirror;

I feel bitter to see what I’ve become.

I can’t tell my friends or family; who would believe me?

I can’t tell the police, they will only mock me.

I am that girl who people describe as little;

But you really don’t have a clue what I’ve been through.

The ones who are supposed to protect me;

End up taking advantage of me.

At sixteen I was called a pretty teen;

But daily I deal with low self-esteem.

Used and abused by the ones I look up to;

I being pushed, and might take my life if it comes to.

Marriage was supposed to be my sweet haven;

Nothing else to compare except God’s Holy Heaven.

But in the arms of the one I truly  loved;

I suffer the pain of his fist as thick as gloves.

And when he is not hitting me;

He speaks uncaring cold hearted words, stinging me.

For better fore worse was the vow I took;

But better remains oblivious,

As this journey keeps growing worse.

I am that woman next door;

We even go to the same market, in the same bus;

I am that girl in your classroom;

Who you think is being pompous in your point of view;

I am the little girl in the playground;

All by myself, ensuring no boy is around.

I yearn to tell my story

That justice would take the glory

But will you accept back in society

And not point your fingers back at me….

I beckon on you;

Come to my rescue.

Help tell my story;

That justice would take the glory.

Else I'll cry; till I have no more tears in my eyes.


Daniel Ikekhuah


 This is the link of the full video of the STOP THE VIOLENCE - A Spoken Word Poetry Video: