By Chioma Obinna
The Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, last week flagged -off another round of the Sub-National Immunization Plus Days (SNIDs) at Ikota Primary School, Lekki Expressway, Eti-Osa Local Government Area of the state with a pledge to seriously address the various challenges beseting immunization activities in the state.
The prevailing situation has left over 60,000 children in the state un-immunized and made attainment of a polio free state difficult. And this may explain why not many Lagosians at the well- attended event, including journalists, believed the Governor.
Considering the enormity of the problem, some felt it was the usual political gambit of merely paying lipservice to deceive the poor masses or another way of scoring cheap political point.
TheÂ Governor, however, did not mince words when he also declared that in order to reach the 60,000 un -immunized children and to ensure the four days exercise covered all nooks and crannies ofÂ Â Â the state, the state Ministry of Health would establish immunization posts at every point in the state, including major bus-stops and markets.
Even with this declaration, the murmuring of disbelief continued as some members of the gathering thoughtÂ it was not the first time they have heard suchÂ beautiful political statements from government.
Apparently, tired of the many promises of past governments that were never fulfilled they dismissed his (Fashola)Â words with a wave of the hand.
Sub-National Immunization Plus Days (SNIDs) are special days set aside by both federal and state governments to immunize children against the dreaded Wild Polio Virus (WPV) which has continued to paralyse children between the ages ofÂ zero and 59 months.
Statistics available have shown that Nigeria remains among the few countries that have failed to eradicate polio inspite of the repeated immunization exercises across the country.
However, little did these doubting ThomasÂ know that Governor Fasholaâ€™s administration was determined to match action with words just as he has been doing with his other developmental and people-oriented projects, especially those of concern to the most vulnerable group in the society, women and children.
According to the Governor, child survival interventions, especially immunisations, apart from constituting part of the rights of the child, have been widely acknowledged as a veritable strategy towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as well as the reduction of under-5 mortality.
To him, the health of children in Lagos State remains crucial to the state government as it has continued to attract world attention.
This reporter, who monitored the exercise in some parts of the state affirm that vaccinators were seen in all the major bus-stops and markets across the state.
At the popular Cele Bus-stop along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, Vanguard Metro sighted five vaccinators swooping on women for on -the -spot immunization of the children they were carrying.
The vaccinators were forthright in carrying out their assigment even when they encountered uncooperative mothers.
It was indeed exciting watching the unfolding drama that Monday morning as vaccinators and some mothers ascending or descending the paedestrian bridge engaged in a game of wits and will over whether a child would be vaccinated or not.
The exercise attracted passers-by and onlookersÂ Â who soon gathered in groups and began to discuss the development. Some of them could not help but wonder aloud at the zeal demonstrated by the vaccinators in the execution of their job and the reluctance of some mothers to cooperate with them.
One of the mothers who stopped for her one year and two months baby, Master Perfection Onyeji to receive two drops of the oral polio vaccine told Vanguard Metro that it has never been done before in the history of the state, saying that â€œthe exercise will definitely encourage mothers to immunize their children.
â€œYou can see most of us are in hurry to get to our shops and offices. If it continues like this I believe manyÂ children will no longer miss immunizationâ€.Â Â Other spots where the vaccinators were sighted included Ode-erun markets, Lawanson, Ojuelegba, Oshodi, Mushin amongst other places.
Giving insight why government decided to introduce vaccinator posts at various bus-stops and markets, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, said it was to check imported cases of Wild Polio Virus (WPV) in the state.
He disclosed that a recentÂ investigation by his Ministry revealed that the states are being re-infected with wild polio virus after being certified polio free a year ago.
â€œIt is another strategy to ensure that our vaccinators comb all the nooks and crannies of the state to immunize all children aged between 0 and five years with oral polio vaccine.
â€œWe are also using the opportunity to seriously address the various challenges that have beset routine immunization and supplemental immunization activities in the state.
Again, the decision to establishÂ permanent posts would be based on the outcome of the border synchronisation meetings for Lagos State, Ogun State and the Benin Republic.
He explained that the failure to reach and immunize all children resulting in clusters of un-immunized children is the reason that Nigeria continues to experience transmission of wild polio virus as well as circulating vaccine – derived polio virus.
Idris stated that the population dynamics of Lagos State which encourages daily influx into the State is such that nothing should be left to chance with regards to polio eradication as the virus stands a great risk of being perpetually imported into the State.
Lifeless baby found on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway
RESIDENTS of Apapa-Oshodi expressway were thrown into fear on TuesdayÂ when the lifeless body of a day-old baby was found along the road in the early hours of the morning.
The lifeless baby boy was suspected to have been abandoned by an unknown mother with his umbilical cord still intact as at the time he was found.
The incident which occurred at Cele however attracted commuters and traders most of whom loudly rained curses on the supposedly heartless mother who threw her baby away.
While sympathisers gathered at the scene, a mild drama, however, unfolded when a mad woman suddenly came from no where, clung on to the baby and burst into tears, an actionÂ most of the on-lookers found emotionally touching.
The baby as gathered, was later removed by officials of the Oshodi/Isolo Council to the mortuary.
Iba LGDCâ€™s street light that gives no light
ALMOST two years after a contract was awarded for the installation of street lights along the hitherto dreaded LASU- Iba expressway, the place is still in darkness according to residents of the area.
Instead, crimes, they said, have continued to flourish making the area increasingly unsafe for residents and road users. The situation would have been worse, according to one concerned resident, but for the presence of security agents deployed there at certain times of the day.
â€œThe idea for the project was initiated by the Lagos State government which directed all local government areas in the state to execute one major street light project each.
At the completion of the project sometime last year, it was tested several times during the day but was never switched on at night when it is most needed,â€ informed another resident.
Although the cost of the project could not be ascertained as at press time, Vanguard Metro gathered that it runs into several millions.
A source close to the Local Government told Vanguard Metro that the Council was being hindered by the huge cost of procurement of diesel for the generator to power the street lights.
A resident of the area, Peter Okereke,Â noted that though the intention is good but that the Council got it wrong when it went for the option of a diesel generator to power the street light.
Okereke advised that the council should think of a way of converting the diesel system to solar which would require the initial capital investment and funds for regular maintenance.s
Passengers passing through that route have been subjected to hallowing experience for the better part of last year until men of the Nigeria Police stepped in towards the end of last which enable people living in the area to enjoy the Christmas holidays.