Niger youths protest in Minna, demand improved power supply

.More women may die of pregnancy complications in Niger

By Ummi Ismaeel, Minna

Some groups of youths early Monday morning took to the streets at Kpakungu, blocking one of the entry points into Minna, the Niger State capital, in protest against incessant power outage despite the nation’s three major hydro dams in the state - Kainji, Shiroro and Jebba.

The youths, chanting anti-government slogans, said that they were tired of epileptic power supply with unjustifiable estimated bills and accused the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) of taking Nigerlites for granted in their lackadaisical attitude to electricity supply to the state.

Some of the placards read: "Enough is enough", "no to estimated billing", "no to two hours of electricity", "If AEDC cannot give us light, they should pack and go", "we no go gree o, we no go gree" amongst others, demanding for an immediate action against the AEDC.

While the government failed to provide jobs for jobless Nigerians, the youths said they helped themselves by opening up small businesses as entrepreneurs but could not continue because most of them lost their capitals due to lack of electricity to sustain such businesses.

Most businesses have closed down due to lack of electricity, some parts of Minna have light for two hourly, while others have not had light for months due to faulty transformers yet they demand money from the customers.

The protesting youths insisted that the anomaly must not continue.

The enraged youths also chased away the Secretary to the Niger State Government (SSG), Alhaji Ahmed Matane, who came to plead with them to end their protests and open up the only road linking Niger State to South-western Nigeria.

The youths who would rather not listen to the SSG’s pleas for calm, demanded that only the presence of Governor Abubarkar Sani Bello would assuage them to open the Minna-Bida road, one of the busiest roads and demanded for better governance and better representation at all levels.

Efforts by the state government to end the protest and open up the road was however not successful as at the time of filing the report.

The youths even refused to listen to a message claimed to have been sent by Governor Sani Bello as their chanting increased the more with demands for the governor, insisting, “We didn’t vote for the SSG, we voted for Lolo. The Governor should come out and address us”.

Meanwhile,
stakeholders have expressed fears that poor funding for Family Planning (FP) and severe funding shortages to Child Spacing Advocacy amid the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to more women dying from pregnancy-related complications in Niger
State.

The stakeholders raised the alarm over the weekend.

According to them, it was unfortunate that the state government only released less than 10 percent out of the hundreds of millions of baira budgeted for Family Planning for the past five years in the state.

In the communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, signed by the Project Director of the Centre for Communication and Reproductive Health (CCRHS), Dr. Aliyu Yabagi Shehu, the group expressed fears that Niger State government might not meet the Contraceptive Prevalent Rate (CPR) target of 25 per cent by the year, 2020.

Dr. Aliyu Yabagi pointed out that “From 2015 to 2020, about N250 million had been allocated in the state budget to issues relating to Family Planning but only N17.5 million had been released, making it only 7 percent (7%)”.

“For Niger state to harvest positive health indicators there is the need to do more for the population in terms of increased funding and access to family planning services and reducing inequities in the health delivery system”.

Sending warning signals to the state government over the near lack of attention to the sector, the stakeholders expressed fears that lack of attention to Child Spacing and the Adolescent Youth Reproductive Health in Niger State could spell doom if nothing was done and urgently too.

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