Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Is NAFDAC really winning the war against fake drugs?

Recently, the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, was interviewed on 90 Minutes, a current affairs programme on the African Independent Television. The minister used the opportunity to shed light on the achievements and challenges of Nigeria’s health sector. Among the giant strides that he claimed the country has made include the extermination of guinea worm and Type 3 polio; significant reduction in maternal and infant mortality; improvement in the condition of service of health workers – nurses can now go on internship likewise, other professionals in the health sector can now get to Level 17, which is the highest in the civil service cadre. He also claimed that some states in Nigeria had met health-related MDG goals.
The minister tried to distinguish between health and health care and that he was only in charge of health care and not the health of the citizens. He asserted that while efforts were being made to improve health care delivery in the country, there are other things that contribute to people’s well-being like their lifestyle which is totally independent of the health care. For instance, reckless driving, indiscipline, lack of hygiene can cut short people’s lives.   The minister nonetheless agreed with the panel of interviewers that there are still significant challenges with Nigeria’s health care delivery system and that he and his lieutenants are doing their level best to overcome them. Prof Chukwu also strongly advocated for Nigerians to embrace health insurance.
Be thaqt as it may, a critical aspect of any health care system is drug production, distribution and administration. Patients are normally examined and diagnosed by doctors and laboratory scientists followed by prescriptions to the pharmacy for drug purchase while nurses, among other services, ensure proper usage of prescribed drugs. For decades, Nigerians have been under the siege of substandard, adulterated and counterfeit drugs. Charlatans and unqualified personnel have taken over the production, distribution and administration of drugs all over the country. There is also the sale of expired drugs.  This has been the stock in trade of local chemist shops or itinerant medicine sellers; unfortunately, some General Hospitals were recently alleged to have dispensed about-to-expire drugs to some patients. Mention must also be made of genuine drugs that have lost their potency as a result of improper storage. All these have resulted in thousands of premature deaths while some others end up being permanently disabled as a result of being administered counterfeit drugs. This phenomenon is most flourishing at our rural communities and urban slums where the prying eyes of regulatory agencies are less vigilant.
Aside administration of fake and substandard drugs, there is also the largely unregulated activities of herbalists and local medicine sellers. Here, I mean those selling herbal concoctions at motor parks, inside buses and at village markets. There is a popular medicine in Yorubaland known as aporo-epa-ijebu, a much-touted cure-all or antidote to all-known human sickness. This patently dangerous drug is still very much on sale in open market in all nooks and cranny of Yorubaland.
The National Agency for Food and Drug  Administration and Control was established  to safeguard public health by ensuring that only the right quality drugs, food and other regulated products are manufactured, imported, exported, advertised, distributed, sold and used. The agency specifically has the mandate to do the following: Regulate and control the importation, exportation, manufacture, advertisement, distribution, sale and use of regulated products; conduct appropriate tests and ensure compliance with standard specifications; undertake appropriate investigation of the production premises and raw materials of regulated products; and compile standard specifications, regulations, and guidelines for the production, importation, exportation, sale and distribution of regulated products.
NAFDAC also controls  the exportation and issues quality certification of regulated products intended for export;  establishes and maintains relevant laboratories for the performance of its functions;  ensures that the use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances are limited to medical and scientific use only;  undertakes the registration of food, drugs, medical devices, bottled water and chemicals;  undertakes inspection of imported regulated products; and,  pronounces on the quality and safety of regulated products after appropriate analysis
In a recent interview in Thisday, August 31, 2013, the Director-General of NAFDAC, Dr. Paul Orhii, said: “…counterfeit drugs were first detected in 1968. By 2001, more than 40 per cent of the drugs in the country were counterfeit or substandard. Due to the effort of my predecessor, by 2005, counterfeit drugs were reduced to 16.7 per cent.”  That should be cheering news, isn’t it? However, Orhii went on to say something scary, which is that narcotic drug barons are now divesting from hard drugs to manufacturing of adulterated and counterfeit drugs. According to him: “With the recent crackdown on illicit narcotic trade, most of the drug barons have now diverted their resources to manufacturing counterfeit medicines. Globally, the business is worth about $75bn annually. That is the quantity of fake drugs circulating internationally; it is more globalised and with the former hard drug barons now entering the business, it has become more militarised. It is now more dangerous fighting counterfeit drugs. Now, they are more sophisticated.” That, indeed, is scary and disturbing.
Orhii is not done, there is another challenge. It’s increasingly difficult to identify fake drugs, he declared aloud. He voiced his frustration when he said: “Before, once you looked at the packaging of a medicine, you knew that they were counterfeit, maybe from the printing. But now, with the sophistication in printing technology, when you see the packaging, it is copied exactly and sometimes they even copy more than the original. We attempted to put holograms on medicines but the counterfeiters got the hologram before us. Nigeria is a good market that attracts drug counterfeiters. We have a huge market; we have a good buying power; so when they bring their counterfeit drugs here, they sell.”  Even though the NAFDAC DG ended the interview on a positive note that his agency had brought the incidence of fake drug to a single digit, I doubt the sincerity of that statement.
Nevertheless, I commend NAFDAC and the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria for raiding drugstores with fake, adulterated and expired drugs. However, a lot more needs to be done to safeguard the health on Nigerians.  Preventive medicine and measures are the only foolproof option. After all, if one is healthy, there won’t be any need to use drugs, whether fake or genuine.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mixing Business with Pleasure on Obudu Mountain

One of my hobbies is travelling. As the saying goes, travelling is part of education. As I traverse the length and breadth of Nigeria in the course of my job, I always want to document anything of interest that I come across. It so happened that from September 10 – 13, 2013, my colleagues and I were at the Obudu Mountain Resort at Obanliku Local Government Area of Cross Rivers State for a retreat. It was not my first time there but when I first visited, also for an official assignment in 2007, I was in a different company entirely. I was one of the few who suggested that this year’s retreat should hold in Obudu, more for a selfish reason. I want to have another encounter with nature and also see if those state of the art facilities I saw in 2007 at the cattle ranch are still there.
I was not disappointed. My experience on Obudu Mountain was breathtaking, fascinating and newsworthy. As we navigated our way from Abuja, through Keffi, Akwanga, Lafia, Makurdi, Gboko, Vandeikya through to Obudu and down to the mountain top, I was full of excitement and suspense. I ran ceaseless commentaries for my colleagues who had not been there. As I told them about my prior experience, their curiosity was heightened and they kept bombarding me with questions during the about nine hours’ trip. Needless to say, they were delighted with what they saw. They described their experience in superlatives and had catalogues of pictures to show for the visit as many of us turned models in photo shoot sessions, posing endlessly for the camera.
What makes Obudu Mountain Resort unique and a place to visit? There are quite a few. The resort formerly known as Obudu Cattle Ranch is situated over 1,576 meters above sea level and visitors has options of travelling the snaky 11 kilometers road with 22 bends from the valley up the  mountain top via trekking, biking or in a car. Alternatively, you may choose to be airlifted by a cable car for a fee of N1, 000. The Obudu cable car is the first of its kind in West Africa and the longest in Africa. There is also the Bebi Airstrip. The resort has a temperate climate, thus the atmosphere is often cold with a lot of mist and drizzle. Hence, you have heaters in the rooms rather than the customary air-conditioners. Aside from the normal hotel facilities such as the gymnasium, games room, spa, restaurant, tennis and squash courts and conference rooms which the resort has, there are places of interest such as the Becheve Nature Reserve where there is Monkey Face view and Canopy walkway, there is a spring, holy mountain, beehive, golf course, a cattle ranch and water park situated at the bottom of the mountain, to mention but a few. The resort is also very close to the Cameroon border and visitors have a view of Cameroon from a section of the plateau. It also hosts the annual Obudu Mountain Race whose winner gets $50,000 cash prize, the highest in the world.
Even the way the 159 rooms were constructed is very fascinating.  There are African huts designed in a typical village setting, circular with thatched roofs.  There are mountain villas constructed in an European-style wooden three bedroom flats with a living room, balcony, and a well-equipped kitchenette. The roads are well-paved, tarred and illuminated with street lights.  Once on the plateau, it is a different world altogether as the atmosphere is serene and natural. There are six villages on the plateau and the villagers meet the needs of lodgers by providing goods and services such as transport, photography, and acting as tour guides.
Given the very tight schedule of our main business at the resort, which is the office retreat, we could not take in most of the tourist attractions but managed to visit the Canopy walkway, the water park as well as took a ride in the cable car. In addition, I visited the village market, used the banking service and played table tennis at the Games centre. I am not a stranger to Cross River State and have been a privileged guest at most of its tourist centres such as Tinapa, the Old Residency Museum, Marina Resort, Free Trade Zone, etc However, if the truth must be told, Obudu Mountain Resort thrills one best and one looks forward to going back as many times as possible.
Essentially, while at the resort, I wondered endlessly why Nigeria has not deemed it fit to fully develop her tourism potential especially as we continue to envisage a “Nigeria without oil” or better still, grow the non-oil sector.
There are countless tourist centres that dot Nigeria’s landscape. There is the Gurara Fall in Niger State; the Sere Hills and Jos Museum in Plateau State; the Mambilla Plateau in Taraba; Osun Grove in Osogbo, Erin-Ijesha Waterfall  and Oranmiyan Staff in Ile-Ife,  Osun State;  Ikogosi Warm Spring in Ekiti State;  Nigerian Civil War Museum in Umuahia, Abia State;  Bronze Carvers in Igun Street of Benin as well as the Oba’s Palace and Benin Museum in Edo State;  Bower’s Tower, Mapo Hall and Ibadan University Zoological Garden in Oyo State;  Yankari Game Reserve and Tafawa Balewa Mausoleum  in Bauchi;  Dye Pit of Kano, Mambayya House (Aminu Kano residence in Kano); River Niger and River Benue confluence point in Lokoja, Kogi State; Eyo festival, Bar Beach, Tarkwa Bay, Badagry slave trading point and first storey building all  in Lagos; Awo’s Mausoleum in Ikenne, Itoku Tie and Dye market  as well as the famous Olumo Rock in Abeokuta, Ogun State. This is just to mention but a few. I have visited many of the above mentioned tourist centres and sadly have to say that many of them have been allowed to rot. However, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State must be commended for his current effort at revitalising the Ikogosi warm spring.
Government needs to privatise or commercialise these tourist centres while providing regulatory assistance. Additionally, government can and should provide the enabling environment to enhance development of Nigeria’s tourism potential. Good roads, security, electricity are a few basic things that can enhance our tourism development. For instance, there are several bad portions on the road from Abuja to Obudu. Some of them are Akwanga to Nasarawa Eggon, the front of Air force base in Makurdi, Dangote Cement area of Gboko, and the link road from Vandeikya to Obudu Federal College of Education. These are a few of the bad spots which I think if quickly fixed can enhance patronage of the wonderland – Obudu Mountain Resort.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The myths about ‘ember’ months

There are several myths about the last four months of the year popularly called ‘Ember’ months. Many believe that September to December are the most dangerous months of the year. The Pentecostals are of the opinion that it is the period when Satan embarks on in-gathering of souls by causing mysterious deaths, accidents, calamities and catastrophes. They therefore call for lots of prayer and fasting, vigils and organise crusades to frustrate the “plans” of Satan and enemies who do not want them to see the New Year.  Given what we now know about ‘ember’ months, it is quite clear that there are no mysteries about the period.

The last four months are the farmers harvest season and a time when a lot of festivities take place. Marriages, burial ceremonies, chieftaincy celebrations, housewarming and many other festivals are often fixed for the last four months of the year because it is assumed that the rains would have subsided.  Many corporate organisations also grant annual leave to their staff as well as close for the year by mid-December to enable their workers to observe the Christmas and New Year celebrations. Thus, it is a period of holidaying.

Because of the hike in the number of festivities observed during the ‘ember’ months, a lot of traveling takes place thus the roads are busier in this period than any other time of the year. Aside from travelling, a lot of people are also under intense financial pressure having to pay school fees and attend to several invitations or contribute to different ceremonies. It is customary in Yorubaland, even in Igboland, to buy ‘Aso Ebi’ and also give gifts to people.  Many also want to show off their progress for the year, particularly if they will be travelling to their homestead or birthplace. Hence, they go shopping for new cloths, bags, shoes, cars, etc. The intense financial pressure can and do cause high blood pressure for many which can lead to sudden death, heart attack or stroke.

For the fact that the roads are busier during the season, coupled with our transporters obsession to make super profit, road accidents occur more during the ‘ember’ months particularly the festive period within that window. The Federal Road Safety Corps always intensifies road safety campaigns during this season. They carry out a lot of sensitisation, patrol and enforcement.

And talking about FRSC, I wish to commend the effort of the Osita Chidoka-led organisation at minimising road accidents. I recall that this vision of road safety, just like that of calisthenics display,  was started in the pace setter state of Oyo when the first governor of the state, Chief Bola Ige, established Oyo State Road Safety Corps  in 1980 or thereabout. We used to call the officials ‘Maja-maja’. I learnt dispute over jurisdiction created a lot of problems for the Corps then as traffic offenders on federal highways were challenging the legality of their prosecution by a state agency.

In 1988, the Federal Government took a cue from Oyo State and set up FRSC. In particular the Commission is charged with the responsibilities for: Preventing or minimising accidents on the highways; Clearing obstructions on any part of the highways; Educating drivers, motorists  and other members of the public generally on the proper use of the highways; Designing and producing the driving licence to be used by various categories of vehicle operators; Determining, from time to time, the requirements to be satisfied by an applicant for a driving licence; and Designing and producing vehicle number plates.

The FRSC also sees to the standardisation of highway traffic codes; Giving prompt attention and care to victims of accidents; Conducting researches into causes of motoring accidents and methods of preventing them and putting into use the result of such researches; Determining and enforcing speed limits for all categories of roads and vehicles and controlling the use of speed limiting devices; Cooperating with bodies or agencies or groups in road safety activities or in prevention of accidents on the highways; Making regulations in pursuance of any of the functions assigned to the Corps.

The Federal Road Safety Corps is equally mandated to carry out other functions such as: Regulating the use of sirens, flashers and beacon lights on vehicles other than ambulances and vehicles belonging to the Armed Forces, Nigeria Police, Fire Service and other para-military agencies; Providing roadside and mobile clinics for the treatment of accident victims free of charge; Regulating the use of mobile phones by motorists; Regulating the use of seat belts and other safety devices; Regulating the use of motorcycles on the highway; Maintaining the validity period for driving licences which shall be three years subject to renewal at the expiration of the validity period; and in exercise of the functions, arresting and prosecuting persons reasonably suspected of having committed any traffic offence.

FRSC in February 2013 celebrated its silver jubilee (25 years) and was able to beat its chest at having assisted to reduce road accidents. According to its Public Education Officer, Jonas Agwu, in his column, Safe Driving in ThisDay of September 7, 2013 “The number of deaths arising from crashes in Nigeria has consistently gone down from 25,792 crashes, with 9,077 deaths in 1988 to 6,269 crashes with 4,260 deaths in 2012.” He went further, “Due to the numerous initiatives designed by FRSC at combating road crashes, as of end of second quarter of 2013, road traffic crashes which stood at 1,077 nationwide had witnessed a 14.6 per cent reduction in comparison with first quarter of 2013 when RTC nationwide was 2,000. Fatality has also declined by 4.04 per cent in the second quarter of 2013 from 1,1086 deaths, when compared to the 1,236 people that died in the first quarter of 2013.”

Good news no doubt. I dare say however that it is not yet uhuru for Nigeria in terms of road safety. Most accidents to my mind are unreported. Aside that, our motoring and road safety consciousness need to improve. I still see a lot of people driving against traffic; driving without seat belt on; making phone calls while driving; not respecting zebra crossing; double parking; etc. Even pedestrians oftentimes refuse to use pedestrian bridges where one is provided while many walk backing traffic instead of facing traffic. This is not to diminish the laudable achievements of the FRSC but to call on all and sundry to partner the FRSC by playing our part. The Commission has provided a toll free number, 122, to lodge complaint or file report; we need to use this number.

Special Marshals should learn not to abuse their position but to use it to ease traffic. It is heartwarming that the Commission is making use of its statistics by recently writing the Toyota Nigeria about the high rate of accidents of its Toyota Hiace buses as well as calling the attention of the Young Shall Grow transport company to high rate of accidents of its buses. This is a commendable use of data. The introduction of speed limiting devices in vehicles is welcome but I do hope it will not fizzle out like that of crash helmets for motor bike riders.  All said, the only thing to tame in the ‘ember’ months is our recklessness off and on the highway; not Satan, devil, demon or imaginary enemies.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Taraba Conundrum

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men" – Lord John Dalberg Acton, British historian in an April 3, 1887 letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton.

This is not the best of time for the behemoth called the Peoples Democratic Party. The  walk-out of seven of its governors and a former vice president from the venue of its mini-convention on Saturday, August 31 and the formation of ‘a new PDP’  and parallel executive by this break-away faction is an ominous sign for the self-acclaimed biggest and  largest political party in Africa who wished to rule Nigeria for 60 years. In fairness to the party, it has been making frantic attempt to manage its numerous crises since the last general election attempting to woo back some of its members who had left to team up with opposition parties. However, the more the party tries to patch things up, the more things get messier within its fold.  The party in recent time formed its governors forum as separate from the multi-party Nigeria Governors Forum. When the aspiration of the party to sponsor a consensus candidate at the May 24 NGF election backfired, the party encouraged the formation of a parallel NGF led by its preferred candidate. The party had even had cause to suspend two of its governors even though one of them has been recalled. In Anambra, Adamawa and Rivers State, the state chapters of the party are in crises. In Taraba, the party watches as the executive and the legislative arm square up in a titanic battle of supremacy.  Are we witnessing the beginning of the end of PDP?

The central focus of this piece is the unfolding drama in the North-Eastern state of Taraba. You may ask what my interest in the affairs of that state is. Well, Taraba is in Nigeria and the north-east geo-political zone has been particularly mired in endless bloodletting for some time now particularly in Borno and Yobe States. As I write this, three of the six states in the zone are under state of emergency. It will be in our collective national interest to do all we could to prevent another state in the zone from coming under emergency rule with its attendant negative impact on the lives of the innocent and law-abiding citizens.

Since October 4, 2012 when the former Deputy Governor of Taraba State, Alhaji Sani Danladi Abubakar was impeached by the state’s house of assembly, the 22 year old state had been in the national news. That action set in motion series of other events with Alhaji Garba Umar, a businessman and longtime friend of Governor Danbaba Danfulani Suntai nominated, confirmed by the Taraba House of Assembly and sworn-in by the governor as his new deputy. Providence played its game exactly 21 days after (October 25) as the  governor got involved in a near fatal plane crash which resulted in him and a couple of his aides sustaining life-threatening injuries and therefore had to be  flown abroad  for medical treatment.  Governor Suntai was reported brain damaged by some section of the media. This was hotly contested by some of his comrade governors and political associates who visited him while in the hospital. Several pictures of him were published and different dates were reported for his homecoming. He only fulfilled that on August 25, 2013.

Since his arrival, much water has passed under the proverbial bridge. On Monday, August 26, he was said to have written to the State House of Assembly on his readiness to resume duties as governor. By Wednesday, a letter signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media announced the dissolution of the state executive council and appointment of new Secretary to the State Government and Chief of Staff. By Thursday, August 29, sixteen  of the 24 members of the state house of assembly purportedly signed to empower the hitherto acting governor Garba Umar to continue to see to the administration of the state while the governor is urged to go back to complete his medical treatment. The acting governor was said to have countermand his boss by directing that the members of the state executive council should disregard the dissolution order.

The Speaker of the House, Hon. Haruna Tsokwa said their observation during their meeting with the governor last Wednesday does not show him as someone medically fit to administer the state. He even said that the letter allegedly written to the House by the governor for resumption of duties may have been forged.   Early last week, the lawmakers decried the attempt by the Suntai’s family and close associates to prevent them from seeing the governor. Even the acting governor was also alleged to have been prevented from seeing his boss. The state commissioner of police and director of state security services were equally said to have been prevented from seeing the governor. However, close associate of the governor said the governor was advised to rest for 72 hours by his doctors due to jetlag.

To my mind, the lingering governance crises in Taraba State is all about self interest of few powerful individuals whose focus is all on the 2015 elections in the state. It is noteworthy that in the ten months that Governor Suntai was away, his loyalists have been swept away from the helms of affair in the leadership of the State of Assembly. Not only that, it was reported in the editorial of Thisday of September 1 that about six weeks ago, the acting governor sacked the secretary to the state government, four commissioners, two special advisers  and the head of the state emergency agency. They were reported to have abused their office and committed gross misconduct by a committee set up by the Taraba State House of Assembly to investigate the management of the funds for flood victims.  It is believed that the handlers of Governor Suntai may have rushed him home to wrestle power back from his deputy given the seeming plot of the acting governor to consolidate his hold on power. They smelt rat that the leadership change in the state house of assembly and the sack of some of the commissioners were not mere coincidences but may be a prelude to eventual impeachment of the ailing governor.

Given the above scenario, the question on the lips of many keen observers is that, is the governor medically fit to govern? Not many people are convinced that he is. Someone remarked that since the governor is a licensed pilot, those who contend that he is fit as fiddle to rule should allow him pilot them on a flight from Yola to Abuja as a proof. Governor Suntai looked frail on his arrival from his Medicare abroad and had to be assisted to disembark from the plane. Even, on Monday, August 26 when he received his Adamawa State counterpart, Governor Muritala Nyako in his office, it was his wife, who spoke on his behalf.   His official address to the state on Wednesday, August 28 was brief and uninspiring and was not even a live transmission but a recorded one. Since the major contention now is whether the governor is hale and hearty enough to resume duties,  it is my opinion that the state executive council  should invoke section 189 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended to have a medical panel establish the state of the governor’s health. Although the likelihood of this happening is in doubt given the purported dissolution of the executive council. Maybe the governor will of his own accord publish his medical report to show that he is healthy enough to govern. That should lay to rest the insinuation of governance by proxy. In a more enlightened society, the governor would have been more thankful for surviving a plane crash and honourably resigned to take care of his health, but that is an alien culture in Nigeria. So sad!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Prostitution and National Development

It is regarded as the oldest profession in the world; prostitution whose practitioners go by the name such as harlots, whore, women of easy virtue, commercial sex workers, prostitute, ashewo, etc is a global phenomenon.  It is an act of being paid for sexual intercourse and is considered an illegal act in many countries except for few such as in some countries in Europe where it has been legalized. Wikipedia says “Estimates place the annual revenue generated from the global prostitution industry to be over $100 billion”. Prostitution takes place majorly at brothels, hotels or residences of the patron.  There is a misconception that it is only the female gender that engages in prostitution, that is not true. There are men who are prostitutes. They are called gigolos. A man who finds customers for a prostitute in return for a portion of the prostitute’s earnings or in exchange for sexual pleasure is called pimp. 

In Nigeria, prostitutes are often found hanging or loafing outside hotel premises or areas popularly called red light districts. They are usually skimpily dressed with their mammary gland and their legs largely uncovered.  They have to dress seductively and provocatively in order to attract customers.  It will however be misleading to think that all prostitutes are to be found on the streets. There are the corporate ones who make use of services of pimps and hotel receptionists in marketing themselves. They give these go-betweens their nude pictures to show to potential clients. Among those who adopt this methods are girls in tertiary institutions as well as those in other paid employments. 

There are those who ply their trade locally i.e. within the country while others are international players. Those who are in the latter group are those who engage in sex tourism. They are those who willingly migrate abroad to engage in the trade and those who are trafficked by some baronesses and barons to engage in sexual slavery. A state notorious for women trafficking for purpose of prostitution is alleged to be Edo State. A sizeable of prostitutes of Edo State origin are said to be found in Italy and other parts of Europe. Quite a number of the victims of this illicit trade alleged that they were tricked or induced into the trade. They are made to swear to a blood oath at a shrine and threatened with instant death should they attempt to break the oath.

A new wave of prostitution, to my own mind, is those who resort to being used as baby making factories. The Nigerian media is awash with news of teenage girls who engage in sales of ‘fruits of the womb’. They are impregnated by young boys and deliver their pregnancies in some maternity centres or orphanages whose owners pay them for the babies and thereafter sell off the children to barren women or those who would use them for rituals. 

There are many causes of prostitution. The most identifiable ones are poverty, greed and physiological disorder. Yes, poverty plays a pivotal role in luring hitherto innocent girls into “selling their bodies”.  Some of the prostitutes have owned up that they resorted to engaging in the trade in order to keep body and soul together. They lament that coming from a poor background, they lack the basic needs and prostitution affords them the opportunity of using what they have to get what they need. Some of them even boast that they have used the proceed of this trade to train their children and wards, build houses, buy cars and meet their immediate and extended family needs.

For those who are in it because of greed they are not poor but believe that the trade offers them access to good things of life which a normal salary job may not easily afford them. Many in this category are students in tertiary institutions and those working class ladies who are not contented with what they have.    They are those referred in local parlance as ‘aristo babes’ who hunt after rich men and boys who could lavish them with money and gifts. Those with physiological disorders are in two categories. Those by virtue of having been sexually molested as a child resorted to living by prostituting as an adult and those who are naturally sexually insatiable known as nymphomaniacs. Nymphomaniacs are not into prostitution because of poverty or greed but because they just cannot do without sex. It is a compulsion and obsession for them to mate with a man. It is noteworthy that gays and lesbians could also be prostitutes even though they engage in same-sex.

What impact do prostitutes have on national development? The effect is both positive and negative. On the positive side, prostitutes are traders who provide sexual services. They are meeting needs of men with huge sexual appetite or those in need of sexual satisfaction. These people, I mean harlots also earn income from such services and as such are able to meet their own financial needs. In some countries where prostitution is legalised, they also pay tax. Invariably, commercial sex workers contribute to the economy by providing self employment and earning income from services provided.

On the flip side however, this group of people contribute immeasurably to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and premature deaths. Among the diseases spread by whores are herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV/AIDS.  Given the number of deaths recorded annually as a result of these diseases, particularly among the working class, it is a monumental loss. Prostitutes also contribute to increase in incidences of rape and moral decadence. With the coming of internet, pornography has been liberalised as their sites abound on the internet.  They are also available in print and compact discs. Unfettered access to these x-rated materials has given rise to incidences of rape.

Government at all levels has been trying their level best to stamp out prostitution by ordering police to raid hotels and brothels. In the Federal Capital Territory, particularly Abuja municipality, the Abuja Environmental Protection Board has been combing all the red-light districts to effect arrest of suspected prostitutes. This has generated a lot of hues and cries as many commentators have spoken about indiscriminate arrest of women whose only crime may be a loose dress sense. I however appreciate what some state governments and NGOs are doing in terms of rehabilitating arrested prostitutes by training them in life skills. National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and other matters (NAPTIP), Idia Reconnaissance, a pet project of Mrs. Eki Igbinedion, wife of former governor of Edo State and even FCT administration have been doing a lot to rehabilitate prostitutes and trafficked women. These are commendable actions. More effort however has to be put into creating enabling environment for people to earn a decent living rather than being forced into prostitution only to attempt to reform them thereafter. A lot of enlightenment campaigns, I mean civic education, has to be undertaken by government and non-governmental agencies to educate citizenry about the evils of prostitution and its negative impact on national development.